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LA LA LAND – City of Stars

lalaland

Directed by Damien Chazelle
Starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons

Director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) gives us a loving callback to the era of classic musicals in his latest offering La La Land.

At first meeting Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) don’t make the perfect romantic couple. Both are caught up in their dreams, both are struggling to make it happen and are being constantly knocked down by life, and both at times can’t stand the other. Yet somehow in the town built upon dreams, a little of that magic is bound to rub off. It’s just when you come down to it, where does a struggling jazz pianist’ and an aspiring actress’ heart truly lie?

Possibly the best way to explain La La Land, is that it’s like good bourbon. This is sweet, rich, magical, but with a burn and just a hint of regret. La La Land certainly harkens back to the musical era, but in its story telling it is a much more complicated creature. Here there is a suffering for art, and a price that needs to be paid for dreams. A mere willingness to pursue them is not necessarily enough. Even a complete and utter commitment is no guarantee, but it is at the very least a prerequisite.

It is this harsh reality, running as a counterpoint to the magical musical one that makes La La Land so special. It recognises the romanticism, and the fantasy surround both the music and the film industry, it delves into this and celebrates it. It also realises that for most, it is but a dream, and the reality of the industry itself is something different.

Chazelle weaves us seamlessly between escapism and bitter truth. From the very first number on an LA overpass to the show stopping finale, this is a carefully thought out and realised ride. Gosling and Stone are perfectly cast, both channeling a charisma of a bygone era. They may not have the technical flair of Astaire or Kelly, but they have plenty of grace and charm. This sees them through a variety of different themed numbers, celebrating the films of the past.

Pure silver screen magic, but with a slight edge. La La Land will make your heart soar and your feet tap.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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