Once in a great while, a film comes around that reminds you why you love movies. “La La Land,” the musical taking the industry and awards season by storm, captures that magic for me. “La La Land’s” narrative picks up where jazz-pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and aspiring-actress Mia (Emma Stone) cross paths. They’re at similar points in their lives; both are down-on-their-luck artists. What follows is a tale about the value of following your dreams and the costs that go along with it.
Following up 2014’s fantastic “Whiplash,” I had high hopes going into this film. Director Damien Chazelle has a knack for capturing passion at its most beautiful and gut-wrenching. Where “Whiplash” felt like a war movie disguised as a music drama, this one dropped me into a technicolor daydream I didn’t want to leave.
The visual spectacle of the film is truly awe-inspiring. From the saturated rainbow of color I saw in the beginning musical number, I knew I was in for a treat. Chazelle only continued to spoil the audience with dramatic long takes, huge and complex choreography and beautiful Los Angeles scenery.
And what would a musical be without its music? The soundtrack composed by Justin Hurwitz calls back to old-school Hollywood in the best way. It’s jazzy and classy, both grandiose and grounded: Stone’s gentle, soft voice waltzes with Gosling’s low croon.
The chemistry of the two leads practically leaps off of the screen. Their relationship takes you through the highest and lowest of emotional peaks and valleys. I did notice about halfway through the film, though, that it kind of forgot it was a musical. The density of musical numbers lowers and focuses more on the dramatic aspects. “La La Land” is a visual and aural delight. It’s often glossy and idealistic in presentation, but underneath is real humanity. Go along with the ride and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.