I’m seriously bummed I didn’t see this one on the big screen.
La La Land is a perfect blend of Hollywood dreaming, wistful romance, classic musical, and visual delight. The pseudo-three-strip-Technicolor is like a five-course dinner for the eyes. A true feast of colors in every scene.
Emma Stone has been stealing my heart ever since Superbad, but this might be her most adorable role ever. Ryan Gosling, meanwhile, will always be a cherubic weirdo (see: Lars and the Real Girl), but his warm intensity is perfect for the character. And I’m blown away that he’s actually playing the piano here; I went in expecting camera trickery with a piano-playing double, but he has some real musicianship.
The songs range from fine to brilliant, with “City of Stars” and its leitmotif tracing the Seb and Mia’s romantic arc the absolute peak.
The ending montage is a phantasmagoria of filmmaking, and also perfectly emotional and bittersweet.
The only thing keeping me from top marks is that I think the movie bungles Seb’s career storyline. His abrupt shift from “schmuck playing keytar at pool parties” to “disenchanted star jazz pianist” lurched me out of the movie for much of the second act.
I love seeing big-budget, original musicals — especially when they’re this visionary and affectionate.
Exceptionally Good (7/8)
Note: This review was originally published elsewhere. Please excuse brevity or inconsistencies in style. If you have questions or feedback, please leave a comment or contact me.