There’s something about old Hollywood films that feels wholesome and fun. These nostalgic films are what birthed the modern film industry, and although musicals are still relatively prevalent, films like Singin’ In the Rain (or any film starring Gene Kelly) have essentially died off. La La Land, directed and written by Damien Chazelle, is a gorgeous modern day throw back to those vibrant musicals of old.
The film follows a pair of struggling artists in Los Angeles; Mia (Emma Stone) a barista who is an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a pianist who dreams of opening his own jazz bar. After a few chance meetings, the two begin a fun and exciting romance that is tested as they chase their lofty career goals.
There is so much to not just like, but love about La La Land. For starters, any musical needs to have good music. And the music in this film is energetic and infused with soulful jazz and wonderful choreography. This should come as no surprise if you’ve ever seen Damien Chazelle’s directorial debut, Whiplash. The wonderful array of music is aided by colorful scenery and well maneuvered cinematography that make the film feel like a Broadway show.
The two lead actors are both sensational. Emma Stone is loveable and earnest throughout while Ryan Gosling’s signature passion and charisma shines through every scene. The two are so good and their chemistry so electric, that you can easily forgive their descent, but not great vocal performances.
The movie’s biggest flaw, a relatively cliché love story, is even rectified with a beautifully crafted ending that feels both happy and heartbreakingly real. With liveliness and magnetic performances, La La Land manages to be an homage and a revitalization of Old Hollywood filmmaking. Flowing with romance, comedy and soulful music from start to finish, it is a triumph and one of the most enjoyable films of the year.
FINAL GRADE: A