La La Land is an American romantic musical film written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.
The film follows Mia (Emma Stone) an aspiring actress who works as a barista on the Warner Bros. studio lot in-between attending as many auditions as she can. Over the course of a few months Mia has numerous encounters with Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist who dreams of opening his own jazz club, but instead spends most of his time trying to make ends meet, working one-off gigs.
Mia and Sebastian soon fall in love and begin living a life together as they continue to follow their dreams. As they experience mixed success they begin to question their future and whether that future still includes the both of them together.
La La Land bursts into life from the get-go with the opening musical number “Another Day of Sun” which sets the scene for Chazelle’s direction of paying homage to the old-fashioned Hollywood musicals but at the same time bringing in the realities of life in the real-world (traffic jams, cost of living) along with what it takes to pursue a career in the performing arts.
The film’s love story is easily sold by Gosling and Stone who have great chemistry having previously collaborated together in Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) and Gangster Squad (2014).
Stone is the standout performer of the two bringing wit, intelligence, vulnerability and warmth to her character. Though Gosling is less striking he still puts in a great performance bringing charm and authenticity to Sebastian.
Whist this is definitely the Gosling and Stone show we are treated to a scene or two from Oscar-winning actor J.K. Simmons as Sebastian’s boss and Rosemarie DeWitt as Laura, Sebastian’s sister. John Legend also puts in a good performance as Keith, an old acquaintance of Sebastian and a fellow musician.
The catchy songs and score for La La Land were composed and orchestrated by Justin Hurwitz with the lyrics written by Benji Pasek and Justin Paul except for “Start a Fire” which was written by John Stephens, Hurwitz, Marius De Vries and Angelique Cinelu.
Gosling and Stone are no Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers but this doesn’t matter as it makes the characters more human and relatable to the viewer. Their dance sequences are cleverly choreographed by Mandy Moore who plays to their strengths rather than adding an array of complicated steps.
With two strong performances from its leads, great musical numbers and stylish direction, La La Land will make you smile and cry in equal measure!