A bitter Jazz pianist and a frustrated wannabe actress who works in a coffee shop on the Warner Bros. Lot begin a relationship and manage to work out their frustrations through song and dance. This musical manages to capture the magic of the Gene Kelly films while bringing in a hypnotic blend of modern mastery that is sorely missing in our present cinema.
Walking away from one of the depressing Oscar contender movies the other day I was joined by a fellow reviewer, a nice guy who I give a hard time, but if I didn’t like him I wouldn’t be that way, I’d make him suffer more. We started talking about the expectations that the wonderful PR people give us on movies, they are doing their job to get us excited, but how most of the time this hype turns out to be a major detriment to the film they are promoting. Then we talked about La La Land as it was coming up for us we’ve had this ramping up of hype for the film, we talked about how it had to be magical. It was 100% magical and just the most joyful experience that we’ve had in a cinema for a long time. It’s not Gene Kelly or Rosemary Clooney, but Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are as close as we’re going to get in this century, my magical premonition powers have told me so. You can mock my premonition powers all you like, but I called the Trump Presidency, way back in February of this year. Also I cannot give you the lotto numbers. Back to the review.
La La Land, as if you needed to know, is set in Los Angeles and while it is at its heart a Musical it does not overwhelm you with the song and dance numbers, but they are there to highlight the wonderful on-screen chemistry that Gosling and Stone have. I think this is the third film they’ve done together, but it’s the first truly great film the have done together. Their relationship in the film is not what you would have gotten back in the glory days of the Hollywood musical, where a hard time coming together is just magically transformed into happily ever after, it’s a hard time transformed into a slightly better ever after and even though so of the dance routines are lighter than air the film keeps both feet firmly grounded in reality.
The best way that I can describe this film is that you take the best Woody Allen comedies and mash it with the Buffy episode Once More With Feeling, while paying respect to An American in Paris and On the Town. If you don’t know what you’re getting after that description then stop going to modern films and spend some time getting to know those. Actually I’m going to insist that you stop seeing anything until you are up to date.
Our lives are getting more complicated and darker, I’m not being a downer here, I’m just trying to be truthful. The older you get the less you have to smile and laugh about, when some film comes along and makes you forget about the hardships of life, makes you smile and makes you want to tap dance down the steps of the cinema, then that is a good thing. You take two performers like Stone and Gosling that give you everything they have and leave their hearts on the screen, then you take a writer and director who knows how to pay tribute to the films of old while taking the art form to a new place, along with a cast and crew that understand where they are going. It’s just an equation that leads you to one of the best films of 2016. It’s hard to tap dance down the steps of a cinema on crutches but this film made me believe that I could do it, and the ambulance men who picked me up were very nice, I’m sure I’ll pay for that down the line. In all seriousness the amount of pure joy through this film, even when your heart is breaking for what could have been, you still feel the love and happiness makes La La Land magical. This is also probably the best date night movie of 2016, so guys and gals, take your partner out for a night, or take someone else’s partner out for the night, I’m not here to judge you, just the movies you watch!
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt