Anybody who knows me personally knows that I’ve been waiting a long time for La La Land. As soon as it was announced, it was my favorite movie of the year, but then I had to wait… and wait… and wait… and wait…
I got so tired of waiting, the film had to work hard to win me over, and I will admit that it took a while to get there. Pretty much to the end.
La La Land is the second film by soon-to-be-certified genius Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), and you know it’s special before the first song is even over. Heck, you might even know it before the first song has started—when it tells you it’s presented in Cinemascope.
The film tells the tale of Mia and Sebastian (Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling), two dreamers who just want to make it. Mia longs to be an actress, even though she’s been to failed audition after failed audition, and Sebastian wants to succeed as a jazz pianist. They fall together to keep from falling apart, and little by little each does find success. It’s just that one seems to be getting ahead, and sometimes the other is afraid of getting left behind. The story is bold and real, and it’s all the more wrenching because of it.
On the bright side, it’s one of the most lucious films of the year. There’s definitely a bright side. Colors pop like they’ve been chosen by Jacques Demy. Long walks in the dark turn into magical musical numbers. The dreamers find the courage to try and try again.
I can’t say I was truly invested for the duration of the film, checking out when it became a little too personal, and I was even going to give this a touch lower score than I did. By the film’s epilogue, however, I was fully entranced. It’s rare to find such a simultaneously devastating and magnificent ending outside of Cherbourg, but Chazelle makes it look easy.
This movie is a masterpiece, one I fully expect to win Best Picture. Its occasional flaws are washed away by the magnitude of Chazelle’s passion for film, and by the chemistry of its leads, and by the soaring heights that only a good musical can achieve.
Perhaps life is but a dream. Perhaps every moment in our lives may lead to a world of new possibilities, ones we wish we could take or wish we had. If only, right? If only… This film will make you cling a little tighter to what you still have.
La La Land is in theaters now.
This movie messed me up, man.