La La Land is wonderful from the word go and sticks the landing. Damien Chazelle’s previous directorial Whiplash was an exhilarating experience that rode high on performances and emotions which came out in the form of its electrifying jazz music. This time too the majestic filmmaker has thoroughly capitalized on his perennial love for melody and rendered an enthralling film even better than the former.
Although the film encapsulates numerous themes about life, sacrifice, opportunities and ambition, it is a romantic film at heart and takes you through the anxiousness and excitement of first love. It begins with a dazzling musical sequence set in a highway which leaves you spellbound with high emotions and the astonishment of seeing something spectacular.
Bollywood is popular for its songs and dance but the choreography in La La Land will leave you flabbergasted. The color palette is so beautiful every scene is full of light and optimism. And just like the seasons of life, the film is segmented in four parts – winter, spring, summer and fall.
It is winter when we meet our charming lead pair Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone). While the male protagonist is a struggling jazz pianist, the female is an aspiring drama actress. Chance encounters and jazz brings them closer. What follows is a string of heartwarming moments – eye gazing, long walks, dancing under the moonlight and some wordplay. What keeps everything in harmony is the music, which by the end of the film, swiftly delivers its message and ensures you leave the theatre a changed person.
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Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are easily the best onscreen pair since James Cameron’s Titanic. Both are spectacular in their roles. The characterization, bolstered by the poignant score, is very relatable.
Ryan Gosling has a hypnotic screen presence and impeccable comic timing (last seen in Shane Black’s The Nice Guys). He is downright fantastic as a pianist. As Sebastian, it is his journey which deeply moves you.
Emma Stone, on the other hand, is so amazing she might just win an Academy Award next year. She excels in portraying a multitude of emotions and expressions. Whether it’s bewitching us with her melodious voice or her dancing skills, she is at the top of her game. One particular scene where she delineates her life’s story in an audition through a song is absolutely terrific.
Linus Sandgren’s cinematography is drop-dead gorgeous too. The lustrous panoramic shots leave you astounded. If something truly levitates the film from the technical aspect other than the soundtrack it’s the masterful camerawork.
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Musically, romantic sagas, in general, embody chartbusters. Here the jewel of all pieces is ‘City of Stars’ which is sure to become a classic. Sung by the lead pair, it will transform your mind and heart, like the film itself.
La La Land is a grand example of engrossing storytelling blended with outstanding performances and a stirring soundtrack. It’s this year’s most ravishing cinematic experience. Go feel the love.
P.S.: The adult rating is unjustified given there is neither profanity nor any nudity. So, don’t think twice before going for the film with your family.
By Mayank Nailwal
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