Movie Name: La La Land
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
Direction: Damien Chazelle
Duration: 2 hours 8 minutes
I normally do not watch award winning movies. Mostly because I fail to understand them. The same goes with books that win the Booker prize too. I find them too complex and tedious to read. Of late, really good movies are getting made in Hollywood and such movies are coming in to focus thanks to the various award ceremonies that take place at the start of every year. The first time I saw the poster of 'La La Land', I found it so magical. Plus, it had the ever gorgeous Ryan Gosling. Sadly, I thought that it would be like any other rom-com and the fact that it was a musical did not pique my interest to watch it. I have never seen a musical before. I've heard of 'Chicago' and 'Moulin Rouge' doing really good as musicals and turning into cult movies later. But the first time I sat down to watch 'Moulin Rouge', I found it to be too loud and sparkly. Ten minutes later, I was watching 'Rain Man' for the millionth time.
When La La Land did a clean sweep of all the awards at the Golden Globes, and with Ryan Gosling winning the best actor award, I had made up my mind to watch the movie. Sadly it released in very few theaters in Bangalore and finding a place that suited our free time was difficult. And when we had the time, tickets were sold out. Finally over the weekend, we were able to get the tickets and went in to watch it. The theater was full and I was transported to another world right from the first frame. The movie starts off on a crowded Los Angeles highway, where the people stuck in the traffic suddenly break into a song! 'Another day of sun' is such a beautiful and happy song that had me smiling from the word go. Finally I realized what a musical is and before the first dialogue was spoken, I was in love with the genre!
On the very same highway, Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) have a moment of road rage with Mia giving Seb the finger. Mia is an aspiring actress who has failed a million auditions in spite of giving it all her best. She works as a barista in a famous coffee hole where she serves coffee to Hollywood actresses and dreams of being one of them someday. When she heads home after another failed audition, her friends take her out to a party and all the four women break into a song at home and then on the street. 'Someone in the crowd' is such a happy, peppy, colorful number that I found myself tapping my feet to every beat. Mia is soon bored and walks out to find her car being towed away. As she walks back home, she hears melodious jazz music and steps into a bar.
After being fired once for not playing the determined set of music, jazz pianist Sebastian (Seb) is back to his old job at a restaurant once he assures the owner that he'll stick to the set list and not play the "dying tradition" of jazz. When no body around appreciates his music, his fingers trace their own path on the keys. And out comes wonderful jazz music, the very music that Mia listened to before coming in to the bar. He snubs her when she goes to appreciate him. Seb is fired again and joins a band that makes the kind of music he hates. Mia and Seb's path cross again at another party. After a tease and brief introductions, he walks her to her car in the night. Unable to find her car, they walk together looking for it. This situation gives rise to the picture perfect song 'A lovely night'. The song is about them hating being stuck with each other, but the chemistry between them says something else. This song is the highlight of the movie. The choreography is perfect and the ambiance magical. Truly magical.
Mia and Seb soon warm up to each other and fall in love. They together croon 'City of stars', making love seem like such a wonderful thing. Soon the struggling actress and the struggling jazz pianist move in together. After a number of failed auditions, Seb coaxes Mia to write her own play and star in it. She writes a one woman show and sends out invitations. Seb meanwhile joins the band of his high school classmate and they get famous even though it is not the kind of music that Seb likes to play. He gets busy with his shows and tours and hardly gets time to spend with Mia. Meanwhile Mia's play turns out to be a dud with hardly anyone turning up to watch it including Seb. Mia leaves Seb and goes back to her parent's place. Seb shows up at her house the next day to inform her about an audition. When Mia doesn't want to go back to acting and auditions, he motivates her to try it one last time. He drives her to the audition the next day. When Mia is asked to tell a story at the audition, she sings a song about her aunt who inspired her to pursue acting.
'The fools who dream', is such a beautiful song. The lyrics, the feeling of getting lost in the words and in the world of dreams is so beautifully captured that you are in your own la la land right there. Mia gets the movie that is to be shot in Paris. Not wanting to come in the way of each other's careers, Mia and Seb separate with the promise of loving only each other forever. What happens next is a very small part in the movie, but the most vital. I don't know if it was a happy ending or not, but it sure was the perfect ending. The movie ended the same way it started. Magically.
This is one of the best movies that I have seen in recent times. The movie is beautiful in every frame. So bright and colorful, that it makes the viewer feel so happy. Emma Stone is brilliant as Mia as she puts in her whole soul into the character. A very special mention to her stylist in the movie. Every piece of clothing that she wears is so beautiful and looks so perfect on her. Even if it is just a white shirt on black trousers. Ryan Gosling! Oh, Ryan Gosling. He's one of the most good looking men on the planet and the perfect Seb. He shows his love and his helplessness via his eyes. The sleek clothes that fit him like a dream is definitely a treat to sore eyes. And his shoes, oh, those shoes! The way he moves, his subtly stiff dancing, his fingers on the keys - what I'd not give to be those keys! Yes, the movie has gorgeous stars, but the hero is definitely the story and the heroine is the brilliant dreamy execution. Every frame, every location is breathtaking just like the main cast. Yes, I just cannot get over how beautiful these two look. Together and other wise.
La La Land is a must watch for those who believe in dreams and for those who believe in love and for those who believe in themselves. Such a beautifully executed story. Hats-off to the music director Justin Hurwitz. Every song is so melodious and perfectly apt for the situation. Most of them sung by the main cast, there is beauty in its imperfection. If all musicals are like this one, I'm a huge fan of this genre for life.
Rating: 5 on 5.