“City Of Stars”
I am not much of a fan of musicals. People singing and dancing randomly in the middle of restaurants and streets just seemed so random and odd to me. Going into La La Land, I knew I was in for a good movie despite it being musical. However, I did not expect to come out of this movie in tears at just how beautiful and ambitious this film is from its musical numbers and joyous optimism. It’s a refreshment of the musical genre of Hollywood musical, while also exploring the dichotomies of the flaws of Los Angeles and the costs of chasing your dreams. La La land is definitely one of, if not the best film of 2016.
The story revolves around Mia (Emma Stone), who is aspiring to be an actress in Los Angeles, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who hopes to one day bring back jazz and open his own club. Both experience pushbacks with both finding no success in auditions or playing gigs at clubs where one can not express themselves. Once the two meet and fall for each other, both push each other to succeed while also experiencing the conflict of dealing with each others careers.
Emma Stone is the standout as the character of Mia, She owns her role, providing the character with the vulnerability and emotions of becoming an actress in Hollywood. She deals with all of the obstacles with such realism that provides an expose of hard it can be to chase one’s dreams. Ryan Gosling is also exceptional as Sebastian, handling his role with such charisma. The chemistry Mia and Sebastian share is undeniably eclectic. The two are in sync whether it’s brilliantly choreographed musical sequences or dealing with success’ that can tear the relationship apart. I could not help but smile when I saw them work together and I usually dislike romantic drama in movies.
Director Damien Chazelle does an excellent job of showcasing Los Angeles for all of its glories and some of its faults. The opening scene showcases the beauty that the city has in its physical appearance with nice long shots overlaying Los Angeles. This trend continues through the musical numbers as the backdrop of gorgeous sunsets and worn down streets gives the city a character of its own in a way. The city does not only contain people trying to chase their dreams, but also people who have had their dreams broken. This is beautifully explored through Mia and Sebastian as they deal with their individual dreams and sometimes the sacrifices they believe they have to make.
This movie is very much character driven. There is no “three-act” plot structure to this movie. Some may find that to be a flaw, but I found it to be one of the films strengths. It is a tight script with excellent writing that made me invested in the characters that I was watching on screen. I could get behind their stories as they felt real and human to me. It was as if I was eavesdropping on their lives. By the end of the film, I could have watched another hour or so as the characters were just that engaging to me.
The musical numbers are another thing to be praised in this movie. The sequences happen so organically and transition so well that it makes me feel that even I would break into song and dance during some of those moments The music is expertly crafted and catchy and along with choreography that really enthralls the viewer in the musical experience. With such sophistication in directing and showcasing all the talents and beauties of the characters and the city, the music gives the movie a whole new layer.
As I stated before, the movie explores the concept of chasing one’s dreams and and the challenges that come with that. It is such a beautiful message to see, especially as a college student where everyone is learning what they love and how they can achieve their goals. One of my favorite quotes from the movie was “you are passionate, and people love what other people are passionate about”. It’s a beautiful message to imbue in individuals and even though that message may be stated in other movies, it is done in such an elegant and tear jerking way in this movie.
The costume design is another notable achievement. Each outfit imbues the style of the situation and even the score that is presented during the time. There is one scene in particular where there is a big musical number that has the characters constantly changing into different outfits that fit the style of the music and tell the story. The level of detail is elegant and enriching.
This movie’s ending is one that will have a lot of people talking. I found it to be beautiful and very human. The movie found the balance of pursuing your life goals and the realization of living a fulfilling life without feeling too much like a fairy tale. It is handled with such expert directing that I was driven to tears by its conclusion. It is a message to those wanting to follow their dreams and to the obstacles that stand in their way.
La La Land is definitely one of the best movies I have seen in recent years. It has an ambitious task of being a musical while also telling its own romantic drama. It succeeds in the chemistry between Stone and Gosling and in particular Stone’s portrayal of a vulnerable character. It has a great message that speaks to the volume of a world filled with dreamers exploring their passions while also illustrating the drawbacks to being so ambitious. The musical numbers are seamless and directed expertly that allows the movie to shine. It may be a bit fairy tale at times, but it handles it in such a realistic way that can make people emotional. La La Land is definitely worthy of all the awards and praise it is going to receive in the coming months.