La La Land (2016)

A man and a woman dancing beside a rather bright streetlight, a city view stretches out behind them. The woman is wearing a bright yellow dress, her partner is wearing a with shirt and tie with dark pants.
Dancing with the City of Stars

Director: Damien Chazelle
Running Time: 128 Minutes
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemary DeWitt, Finn Wittrock, Callie Hernandez, J.K. Simmons

From the opening moments, where an old looking title card expands to modern cinema ratio, it's clear what Damien Chazelle's intentions are. That fitting start says it all, to deliver a lovely homage to the musicals of yesteryear, with a clear adoration for Hollywood.

An aspiring actress who works in a coffee shop, Mia (Emma Stone) crosses paths with Seb (Ryan Gosling), a die-hard fan of jazz, who dreams of opening a bar dedicated to the music. It's a simple tale, about two dreamers in love, resting on the performances of its lead performers. Considering this is their third film as a pairing, it's no surprise how perfect Gosling and Stone's onscreen chemistry is. The pair prove easy to root for, both in their relationship, and their individual endeavours, thanks to the wonderfully charming and believable portrayals. As their journeys takes both characters through rocky times, with their elated highs portrayed as well as the crushing disappointments.

Image result for la la land 2016 youtubeBut we really should talk about the star of this film: the musical numbers. As the films early moments depicts a dance number on a crowded highway, the stage is set. The dance numbers are fantastically choreographed, brought to life with a wonderful elegance, shot with vivid energy and a real sense of fun. The standout number, entitled "A Lovely Night", has Mia and Sebastian share a dance amidst some gorgeous cinematography, choreographed in a way reminiscent of the musical classics such as Singin' In The Rain.

The rest of the soundtrack is phenomenal, as the musical standout is Golden Globe winner "City Of Stars", which works especially well both as a Gosling solo, and a duet. "Audition/The Fools Who Dream" is another highpoint, showcasing the fantastic power held in Emma Stone's voice. One could go on, as it's really a spectacular soundtrack that's been assembled. If anything, it's a shame we don't get a few more musical numbers.

But the real genius lies in the final act, as the tone turns bittersweet. It takes what we've witnessed before and builds upon it, turning the emotional investment up ten-fold. It leaves one to forget they're watching a film, as opposed to witnessing the finale to this tale, about characters we've grown to care about.

With only three films directed, Damien Chazelle has made himself known as one of the strongest directors working today. From the magical soundtrack to the gorgeous visuals, and especially the wonderful characters, La La Land is an accomplished piece of cinema that'll leave a song in your heart, and an urge to dance your cares away.