Director: Damien Chazelle
I can’t believe the Afterwrod doesn’t yet have a La La Land review, so here it is. Though you don’t need to be a full on musicals fan, you need to be open to a few basic ideas to enjoy this film. Characters can burst into song and dance in the middle of a scene – fine with me. Open to a bit of jazz? Quite a lot of jazz. Ok? Let’s go then. The story is one of the oldest in the movie business – two dreamers on the make in LA – actress Emma Stone and jazz pianist Ryan Gosling – fall in love with each other, and each other’s dreams. You know what? Success costs and as he hooks up with John Legend (yes) and the success starts coming the cracks in the relationship widen. It’s romantic, it’s a comedy – but most of all it’s a love letter to the MGM musical, to Hollywood and to LA. We go on a whistle stop tour of LA landmarks from the Griffiths Planetarium (Rebel Without a Cause) and gridlocked freeways to the studio backlots. Gosling and Stone twirl, tap dance and croon their way through a series of great set pieces – culminating in a breathtaking dream sequence at the end that sucks the whole film into a riot of colour and music. It’s a testament to the quality of the music that even Ryan Gosling’s tortured artist sessions at the piano are thrilling. Stone and Gosling have chemistry that had me grinning along – and if the set-up is pure cornball the script rings enough contemporary twists to keep the whole thing in the air. Ridiculously retro, ridiculously enjoyable. Though it can’t quite pull of a big number that you’re humming on the way out – Stone has a big ballad that doesn’t quite spark – it’s damn fine. There’s even time for some musings on whether purity versus crossover is the future of jazz and some Afterword friendly in jokes about A Flock of Seagulls and Kenny G.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
MGM Musicals and love letters to the moves and LA – thinking Hail Caesar, LA Story and so on