'La La Land' - Movie Review

Updated: Dec 31, 2016, 12:04 IST | Johnson Thomas

'La La Land' might not have managed to hit the emotional complexity that director Damien Chazelle intended, but it certainly gets you a dazzling high

'La La Land' 
A; Musical comedy
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, JK Simmons
Rating:  

This contemporary musical helmed by Damien (Whiplash) Chazelle centers on the relationship between a jazz musician and an aspiring actress. It’s fashioned mainly on the French musical cinema of the Jacques Demy variety — so Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers might just as well gracefully step aside. But, not by too much though.

While the tone and pace of French and American musicals are similar, there’s distinctive flair in their individual assay which Chazelle has captured well here. Movement, energy, lyrics, fluidity and sheer imagination form the fulcrum of Chazelle’s creative thrusts here. And it’s not all song. This is an evocative film about love and dreams, and how the two individualised aspects can impact each other. Set in LA, the film opens with cars being stuck in the notorious traffic, and the drivers get out and break into song. It’s ‘another day in the sun’, they croon. Could be a flash mob in today’s parlance, but Chazelle makes it distinctively yesteryear. Wannabe artistes jump out of cars and dance on the freeway; the choreography is entertaining.

Pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and actress Mia (Emma Stone) fall in love and encounter problems because of their dreams and it’s all experienced in the extravagance of song and dance. You can’t help get involved in their emotional roller-coaster. Chazelle makes good use of the stylised trappings of the Hollywood musicals from the ’40s and ’50s, replete with starry nights and street lamps lighting up the romance.

LA has rarely looked this gorgeous, and credit for that goes to Swedish cinematographer Linus (American Hustle) Sandgren, who shot most numbers in magic hour. Composer Justin Hurwitz with lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul deliver the jazzy vein; production designer David Wasco and costume designer Mary Zophres mix the old with the new for elegance. Choreographer Mandy Moore makes stylistic composites look like a cakewalk. This film might not have managed to hit the emotional complexity that Chazelle intended, but it certainly gets you a dazzling high.

Watch the trailer of 'La La Land'

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