Movie: La La Land

Movie: La La Land
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Distribution: Theatrical
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons
Rating: PG-13
Release: December 25, 2016
Reviewed by: Lori Twichell
FA Scorecard: A

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring young actress who lives a dual life. To pay the bills, she’s a barista at a coffee shop on a film studio lot, but when she’s not working, she’s auditioning for pretty much any role possible. Sebastian is a jazz pianist who loves every single thing about traditional jazz. He spends every moment struggling with menial music gigs in order to pay bills, but the ultimate goal is to own a jazz club.  At this point, it’s not really a huge surprise that these two gorgeous young creative people in L.A. are destined to meet.  It is, after all, their story. Or maybe, is it more than that?

From the first second I watched the trailer for La La Land, I was hooked. I love musicals. In our home, my kids know all the words to Singin’ in the Rain and Anchors Aweigh. They’ve watched On the Town (seriously – Gene Kelly dancing on roller skates? That’s still too cool for words) and every year, we watch White Christmas and Holiday Inn. So this movie was a done deal for me before I even stepped foot in the theater.

However, even being in love with the concept doesn’t ensure that the film will meet expectations. How many trailers have you watched that have left you sorely disappointed in the final product? So I was cautiously optimistic. When the lights went down, my heart did a little skip. It raced a bit more when I saw the Cinemascope logo pop up. And from there? It was magic.

This is a modern day musical that plays as if it were filmed decades ago. Modern day cars and devices are present, but they don’t overwhelm. The story is what owns you here. And it owns you  huge from the first moment  on the screen.  A few minutes into it, I was actually having a dialogue with myself in my head about how much I loved it. (Funny thing – my fourteen year old daughter told me at the end of the movie that about halfway through she said to herself that it was her favorite movie ever.) I adored the fact that the costumes, scenery, and the lighting played to the vintage style. I fell in love with the fact that the cynicism of every day could be found in this film, but it didn’t dominate everything. This was a film suffused with millennials  that broke all the millennial stereotypes.

I’m sitting here thinking to myself that I am supposed to be reviewing this movie, but there’s so much I want to say about it that is more than the lighting and the cinematography and the story.  Ill have to write more about those things later on my own blog. For now, every aspect of this film was gorgeous. It paid homage without mocking. It didn’t shred the olden films that set the bar for where we are today. Instead, it took us back to the glory of gorgeous storytelling. Production that uses color and music and lighting in ways that highlight exactly what you want in the story.

This movie was stunning. I am so glad that I saw it on the big screen because that’s what it deserves. Big, bold and beautiful, La La Land OWNS every single inch of the screen and utilizes every channel of sound. It doesn’t happen in front of you. It happens around you. Even if you have no idea what song is coming next, you feel like you’re singing along with them. This is a film to be savored. The big screen allows that to happen. But be warned – one viewing might not be enough for you! I’m already planning my second. 🙂

Oh and the MUSIC? Superb. Stellar. Amazing. Seriously – the brillliance of this soundtrack cannot be overstated. It felt familiar at the same time it was new. It was fresh and classic and modern all at once. And it wove throughout the story until it became like its own character. Or setting. No matter where the story was happening, when that song started to play, we were all in the same place.

I could go on and on and just keep raving about this film, but I’ll leave it here. If you have any affection for classic films, musicals or old school storytelling, then go see La La Land.

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