Friday, February 10, 2017

La La Land - here’s to the ones who dream...

movie review

La La Land

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J. K. Simmons
Written and directed by: Damien Chazelle
Tagline: Here’s to the fools who dream.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months, you certainly must have heard of La La Land, the musical comedy drama that has been the talk of Tinseltown ever since its release in December. With the Hollywood award season in full swing, Damien Chazelle’s brainchild has emerged as a leading contender for some of the film industry’s highest accolades, and has indeed bagged numerous trophies at various ceremonies. So just why is everyone going gaga over La La Land? Simply because this ode to Hollywood is itself a glorious example of movie magic.

The film follows the story of two struggling artists who fall for each other in Los Angeles while trying to realize their ambitions.

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress who works as a barista at a coffee shop on the Warner Bros. lot. Despite going for a string of auditions, she hasn’t landed any roles and her acting career hasn’t made any head way. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who hopes to open his own club but has to make a living by performing in bars.

As the two struggle to achieve their dreams, their paths cross. Sparks (eventually) fly, but their dreams and romance take bittersweet turns over the course of a year, the changing of each season announced on the screen.

A beautiful love letter to passion, art, and classic cinema, La La Land is mesmerizing from start to finish. Everything from the cinematography and camera work to the acting and direction is impressive. Chazelle – who both directed the movie and wrote its script – knows how to make the audience feel the heartache that his characters experience, and has created a modern day masterpiece that harks back to the era of the mid-20th century musicals which clearly inspired this project.

But Chazelle isn’t the only one who merits props here; equally deserving of praise is Justin Hurwitz, who composed the beautiful music that drives the film. His score covers the spectrum from buoyant and joyous to haunting and heartbreaking (often simultaneously), gently becoming an integral part of the narrative.

The film also benefits from the captivating performances delivered by both its leads. Stone and Gosling may not be the most amazing vocalists and dancers, but that appears to be exactly what Chazelle is going for; the sequences aren’t as intricate or demanding as some of the most celebrated moments from classic musicals, but the actors’ limitations have been designed to add to the beauty of the film, making their performances more relatable, more charming.

Visually stunning and emotionally resonant, La La Land proves to be a memorable cinematic experience, both because of its artistry and poignancy. This musical romance will touch your heart, leave you humming its catchy songs, and make you marvel at the effort that has gone into the conception, preparation, and execution of this project.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

- Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 10th February 2017 *

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