In Reviews




Someone once said, “we see ourselves in the movies we love.” I am not sure who that someone was, but I saw every bit of myself in La La Land, a beautiful, whimsical film from Whiplash writer/director Damien Chazelle. I am a sucker for romance, songs, and dance because I grew up on movies such as Guys & Dolls or Singin’ in the Rain, which are certainly inspirations here. With Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling showing off their many talents, La La Land is by far the best movie of 2016. 

Stone dazzles as Mia an aspiring actress in Los Angeles who works as a barista on a movie studio lot and has a meet-cute moment with Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a pianist hoping to open his own jazz club. The pair both have their own artistic struggles. Mia deals with the constant rejection from auditions while Sebastian ignores his overdue bills and any advice from his sister Laura (Rosemarie DeWitt). When these two match up, the misery seems to flutter away as the musical tunes whip us away into the bright lights of Hollywood. 

There is so much love that I have for this movie. It taps into every romantic bone of my body, often reminding me of the way my heart feels when taking walks with my wife anywhere in the city, because it allows my mind to float away on a cloud, much like the way the music in La La Land does. Chazelle leads us along with Gosling and Stone to a bench overlooking the city lights to perform “A Lovely Night”, a brisk song & tap dance number between the two that recalls Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers floating in each others arms.

The casting of these two leads must not be overlooked as just the “it” actors of the moment. There is a perfect calculation in who could pull a movie like this off. Gosling, the former Mickey Mouse Club kid, is the total package of talent. Whether he’s tapping his toes or tinkling the ivories, he’s a throwback to the golden age of Hollywood with stars like Carey Grant and Clark Gable. 

As for Stone, she’s just as good. Her bright eyes shine, as they gaze upon the stars, in an out of this world sequence at the Griffith Observatory. It is easy to see why Woody Allen latched onto Stone for 2 of his last 3 films, as she is a vision of grace, looking fabulous in a bright swinging yellow dress or black capris and flats. Although there are many other talents, I don’t think someone like Jennifer Lawrence would have been able to pull this off. 

Chazelle should be a shoe-in for winning multiple directing awards. At the core of La La Land, much like his Oscar-winning Whiplash, is his love of the arts, on display with easter eggs like a Jacques Tourneur’s Cat People poster in Mia’s room. His characters also deal with their personal fears and as artists, the struggle for success and happiness. With zippy and flawless editing from Tom Cross, paired with the gorgeous cinematography from Linus Sandgren, it is a romantic movie that the world so desperately needs. I feel sorry for any person who can’t feel good about life after watching La La Land.

What’s left to say? La La Land is hands down the best movie of 2016. I even love this movie for its flaws. It’s because Emma Stone is not the perfect singer or because the dance routines aren’t as complex as what Gene Kelly would do. It’s so much more than that. This is a film that gives romance a chance. That’s why La La Land is an absolute wonder; a gorgeous spectacle filled with beautiful music, lights, and colors. This is the must-see movie of the year.

4 Stars 

Written by: Leo Brady

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