Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling
To say musicals are back would be a grand statement. To say that La La Land should inspire studios to bring the timeless genre back to the screen would be a strong assessment.
Damien Chazelle wrote and directed this charming musical about aspiring actress Mia (Stone) and ambitious jazz pianist Sebastian (Gosling) trying to make it in the city of their dreams, Los Angeles. The simple plot surpasses all expectations and shows you the importance of love, dedication and the unknown adventures when chasing one's dreams.
Stone and Gosling's chemistry is electrifying. Witnessing their tangible connection from their first on-screen romance in Crazy, Stupid, Love to La La Land proves why the duo were a solid choice to cast together. Both actors, talented in their own regard, give knockout performances and fully embody their angsty roles, and together their storylines thrive through their undeniable love for each other and their craft. It's like watching someone fall in love for the first time — with one another but also with their crafts — as Mia and Sebastian teach each other why they love their art form.
Of course, the music in La La Land is outstanding. Brilliant composer Justin Hurwitz teams up with Chazelle again after working with each other on Chazelle's first film Whiplash. Mixing classical music with authentic jazz call and response ploys, the two genres frame the haunting low points and exciting triumphs of La La Land through wondrous compositions and heartfelt harmonies. Music ultimately becomes a character of its own in the film as the jazz drives the plot forward. It also gives Chazelle the opportunity to bring his obviously favourite music genre to the forefront.
Where La La Land falls short is the mediocre singing from the two stars. Stone and Gosling are not singers and it's apparent. Although there are triple threat performances from accessory characters, the two leads flatten the music with their un-dimensional renditions of the melodies. It was a noticeable flaw in a relatively seamless homage to musicals, unfortunately costing Chazelle every time Stone and Gosling fixed their mouths to sing.
However, outside of the subpar singing from the two mains, La La Land was a beautiful movie solidifying Chazelle's visionary direction and encompassing storytelling. His direction and writing is what you take home from La La Land. Running off the success of Whiplash, his second movie brings the same level of artistry and creativity with a bigger budget and cast. It shows in every scene and echoes in every musical number, making Chazelle the must-watch element of La La Land.
Watch La La Land to witness Chazelle's genius on screen, for witnessing the birth of a Hollywood career is as charming as musicals themselves.