Gosling, Stone headline vintage masterpiece

‘La La Land’ dazzles, proves ability of modern-day movie musicals


Fair use from Summit Entertainment.

Marketing a musical in the 21st century that isn’t “Hamilton” can prove to be a nearly impossible task. In “La La Land,” the improbable comes to life as director Damien Chazelle delivers an instant classic while reinvigorating the movie musical.

The film, given a wide-release on Dec. 24, tells the story of Mia Dolan (Emma Stone) and Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling), two aspiring artists in present-day Los Angeles. The film incorporates elements of both a drama and a musical, which weave together to create a compelling narrative.

The film’s acting, mainly because of Gosling and Stone, borders on nearly impeccable. Stone’s portrayal of an often rejected actress adds a layer of realism, displaying the harsh nature of life in Hollywood. Gosling’s character, a jazz pianist hoping to start his own music club, starkly contrasts with Stone for the film’s first half-hour. The undeniable on-screen chemistry between the two makes each scene easier to digest than the one before, as both actors wonderfully demonstrate a grasp on love in a real-life scenario.

Chazelle, also known for directing “Whiplash,” both directed and wrote “La La Land.” The film appears as if done by a Hollywood veteran, which testifies to the 31-year-old director’s prowess at such a young age. Chazelle creates a film worth seeing multiple times just to experience its visual beauty, but doesn’t sacrifice the plot’s execution for a pleasing aesthetic. This mixture of both cinematic and creative aspects highly increases the film’s accessibility, something especially important today as Hollywood becomes more flashy.

Another interesting facet of “La La Land” is its vintage style. The film, shot in CinemaScope, pays homage to classic movie musicals of the 50s’, such as “Singin’ In The Rain.” The flashy dance numbers, colorful summer wardrobes and jazzy style of music gives the film an old-fashioned feel, one which feels ironically refreshing in today’s film industry.

The film’s screenplay, written by Chazelle, shows the ability to create an old-fashioned movie musical with modern philosophies. Films involving romance often implement rather specific gender roles for the male and female lead, although this is almost completely absent in “La La Land.” Stone’s character shows a lack of emotional dependability, a refreshing scenario compared to the often sexist undertones of roles written for actresses.

Both visually and dramatically abrasive, “La La Land” demonstrates the beauty of movie musicals and their full potential in modern-times. A true gem of the genre, Chazelle paints a mirror-image of real love through exceptional performances by both Gosling and Stone. The door sits wide open for the movie musical genre, done in most part by “La La Land.” Able to incorporate audiences far larger than “Les Misérables” or “Hairspray,” this film captures all there is to love about the realism of romance. It’s 2016’s best film.

“La La Land:” 5/5