"La La Land" Review
Rarely, when I stand from my seat in the theater, am I able to say that something was moving. Sure, things can be good - or great, even - but rarely, ever so rarely, do you see something that was moving, especially something that on the outside, can be viewed as frivolous and unrealistic. La La Land is all that and more: it's breathtaking and spectacular, and it's everything that cinema used to be back when pictures were played in picture houses that had one screen. It's a cinematic experience that I imagine my grandparents would very much enjoy, and that's not a bad thing. It actually thrills me for what is ahead at the movies, though I would like to see another director even attempt what Damien Chazelle so aptly captures in the 128 minute runtime.
From the opening number, you're informed that this is going to have old Hollywood flair with a modern setting, and while that might seem like an impossible task, it happens in a way that feels so effortless. Our two main characters, Sebastian (Gosling) and Mia (Stone) are both struggling with the hope of living out their dreams versus living a comfortable but dull life. While not everyone is bound for the City Of Stars, the conflicts of the characters can be easily translated to the lives of most people. The characters of Sebastian and Mia both felt so natural on screen for Gosling and Stone to portray, especially Stone, who is able to completely make you forget who she is, much in the same way that Meryl Streep does so eloquently every time she appears on screen.
The song and dance numbers felt so effortless, as if this was what people do in day-to-day life in order to tell their stories. Audition (The Fools Who Dream), performed by Stone's character, will be stuck in my head for weeks, I'm sure, as will the encouraging words from Gosling's Sebastian. The music further demonstrated the beauty that exists within this script, and that's that something so simple and ordinary can also be astonishingly beautiful. Love, as we know, is like Sebastian's jazz music: classic, yet beyond our wildest dreams. Without giving away too much, to be a musical, this is the most realistic portrayal of romance that I've ever seen on film. You rarely ever have a comfortable love with a whirlwind romance. I believed in Sebastian and Mia's love so much, largely because ordinary things happened to them. Most of the time, when we see realism brought to screen, it's in a documentary or the news. This is more real than Keeping Up With The Kardashians, kids. And before I forget, the costuming in this movie is so perfectly understated. Every single article of clothing in the movie looks like it could be found at your local Macy's or Target, and justly so.
The film is also shot in a way that you rarely see anymore, save for action and sci-fi flicks. Beautiful wide shots that, frame by frame, make you appreciate the surroundings. The movie didn't play from 'the hips up' as many films do today. And damn, if the close-up shots of Gosling and Stone's faces at the end didn't make me cry. It was then that I realized why this movie is clicking with audiences: it's a realistic story in a fantastical setting - a tale that could have been told in any time period, but since it takes place in modern day, it's almost too much for our 21st century brains to comprehend.
Most importantly, you're constantly reminded that your dreams aren't stupid. In the negative world that we live in, that might be the most important message that this movie has to give. If you're some kid in the midwest, playing your guitar, or you're a teenager from the middle of Appalachia, wondering if anyone will ever read what you write, don't worry, because it's worth it. Success, as shown in the movie, isn't about money; success is being able to do what you love day in and day out.
Is it the best movie I've ever seen? No. Is it the best directed? Likely.
Don't walk, but instead, dance your way into the theater to see La La Land. Don't let this movie be the one that got away.