‘La La Land’ a dream come true

Dream a Little Dream: In the six years it took to cast the film, the lead roles in “La La Land” were initially offered to Emma Watson and Miles Teller, but ultimately fell to Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling due to scheduling conflicts and creative differences. Since the film’s debut at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, the duo has received international critical acclaim. 

Colleen Kelly

They just don’t make movies like this anymore.

A musical set in modern day Los Angeles, Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress that can’t catch a break and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist torn between being financially secure and following his dreams. After a few chance encounters, they strike up a romance while they climb the rungs of the entertainment business and try not to lose themselves.

“La La Land” is a refreshingly clever callback to the golden age of musicals. So much of that is due to the gorgeous score and musical numbers. The music strikes a tentative balance beautifully, whether it be a stripped down piano ballad or an electrified dance number.

Of course Stone and Gosling were outstanding. Suffice it to say they are our modern day Fred and Ginger. Both Stone and Gosling did all their own vocals, dance numbers and instrumental work.

The technical work is top-notch. Consider how the lighting is as much a character as Mia and Sebastian, constantly reflecting their moods. It’s all in the details, director Damien Chazelle had a clear vision that was realized fantastically on screen.

Finally, the script itself needs some recognition. A particular resonating theme was the importance of solidifying one’s own identity. Mia struggles to stand out at auditions and feels like another face in the crowd, but is alive and vivacious in her private moments. What Sebastian struggles with is finding work he finds artistically rewarding that will also pay his bills. He wants to play old school jazz, but realizes that that’s not what’s going to get his face on a magazine anytime soon. Watching these two prop each other up and evolve as both individuals and as a couple is fascinating, and the answers they eventually find are satisfyingly, poignantly realistic.

Considering the gorgeous direction, outstanding music I can’t stop looping on Spotify, clever script and lovely performances from the entire ensemble, how could I give “La La Land” anything but a perfect score?

Rating: 5/5 stars