Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend
In the world full of dreams, Los Angeles is basically the dream place where aspiring artists struggle to make their way to Hollywood. Some find success and some don’t. It is a city full of dreamers. It’s been a while since we have seen a good old school musical film which is simple but told in the most artistic way.Well, the musical genre is alive and thanks to the brilliant filmmaker Damien Chazelle, we have a dreamy romance filled old school musical like La La Land starring Crazy Stupid Love couple Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
At the special screening at the 18th MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival held on November 23, 2016, we got to witness of the best musicals in the longest time. It is basically a gift from the movie gods and is at once an ode to the good old days. The movie opens with a dance number while we get the introduction of our lead characters Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). How to spend the time while being stuck in traffic? By breaking into a dance number on the song, ‘Another Day of Sun’. Amongst the crowd are Mia and Sebastian. He blows his car horn at her, she gives him the finger — ah, the beginning of a great romance always starts with some kind of a banter. Mia works as a barista at a coffee shop on the Warner Bros. lot and auditions for almost everything but never really end up getting good parts. Sebastian aka Seb is a struggling jazz pianist who is mourning the death of real jazz and jazz joints in LA while dreaming of opening his own place. He works in a lounge where his boss (J.K. Simmons) warns him to stay away from playing his own music and orders him just to play Christmas carols.
The story is pretty simple. A struggling jazz pianist Sebastian meets an aspiring actress named Mia in contemporary Los Angeles. They keep running into each other until Sebastian finally asks Mia out on a date. They fall in love, they sing and dance. Both of them are good influences on each other as Sebastian encourages Mia to write her own play whereas Seb decides to take a great gig offered by an old friend Keith (John Legend) which includes touring, studio work, a salary of $1,000 a week and cuts of profits. According to Mia, it is a dream to get a big gig like this but to Seb, it’s almost an insult because Keith is playing modern jazz and almost a fusion. The couple embarks a new journey together, faces ups and downs and the challenges in their relationship.
Emma Stone’s character Mia shows the pain of the struggles an aspiring actress faces in the world of dreams. Her emotions are genuine and showcase an aspect of her personality. Her solo song is what grabs everyone’s attention and could definitely be one of the reasons for her to receive an Academy nod. It’s one of her best performances. Ryan Gosling is just terrific portraying this irritable yet lovable guy who just dreams to bring back the purest form of jazz and open his own lounge. This pairing and their genuine chemistry had worked its magic before and this time it has elevated the project and story. The ending of the movie only showcases the greatest potential of these actors and tells us why we have loved them as actors all these years. Because they work like magic together.
Damien Chazelle is just 31 and had already proved his brilliance with the Academy Award nominated film Whiplash. He knows the genre, his research, his writing, the music, and direction is so mature. Justin Hurwitz’s music soulful, heartbreaking and hits you hard with all the feels. These two completely deserved the wins that they received at the Critics Choice Awards 2016.
La La Land is a gift from the movie gods. It is beautiful, joyous, heartbreaking, fun, romantic, toe-tapping, emotional, flat-out great. But, the word you are looking for is “magical”. The film has greatest musical numbers but what makes it different from others is the fact that it is very relevant and grounded in reality. One understands the struggles and dreams of the lead characters and relates to them from the get go especially the finale. La La Land is definitely one of the best films this year saw and a great way to end 2016.