La La Land is one of the most beautiful films of the last decade. From the opening shot, a huge song and dance on a crowded freeway, the vibrancy pours off of the screen. Director Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren crafted sweeping shots that weave between the performers that are simply breath-taking. Simply put, this film is love at first sight.
This is very much an open love letter to classic Hollywood. Over references to Singin’ In The Rain and Casablanca aside, La La Land pays tribute to a golden age of cinema. Ironically, this film feels so unique today because it is so steeped in history and homage; it’s audaciously retro and it’s all the better for it.
It’s also incredibly refreshing to have a film so unabashedly hopeful. La La Land at its core is about those who dare to dream big and shoot for the stars. Even the most miserable of moviegoers won’t be able to resist the film’s infectious joy. In today’s somber world, it is truly irresistible escapism.
Stone and Gosling perfectly exude this bright shiny quality; the pair has chemistry to burn. Stone captures the bright-eyed idealism of Mia but successfully colors her character with more depth beyond just naive innocence. If she hadn’t already, she has definitely cemented herself among the best young actresses working today.
If Stone is La La Land‘s heart, then Gosling matches her with soul. Often criticised for only being able to play stoic, quiet characters (after the huge success of Drive), Gosling definitely turns on the charm. His sarcastic charisma is palpable on screen and his Sebastian is endlessly likable.
The musical elements of the film are where the problems begin to arise: Stone is not the best dancer in the world and Gosling is not the most confident of singers on the soundtrack. To an extent, this can be overlooked as it is difficult not to have fun when both actors clearly are. It also brings with it a more natural feel, making the gorgeous and polished world seem just a little less dreamlike.
The songs themselves are all very good and certainly enjoyable. Stone’s solo “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” is incredibly poignant and will resonate with people of all ages. However, none of the songs are particularly memorable. There isn’t a melody that sticks with you and that you find yourself idly humming without even realizing. La La Land will be remembered for its visuals rather than its catchy tunes.