Title: La La Land
Genre: Musical, Romance, Comedy, Drama
Director/Writer: Damien Chazelle
Music: Justin Hurwitz
Cinematography: Linus Sandgren
Tom Everett Scott
The opening film of Venice ’73, a strong contestant of the Golden Lion, Tinseltown’s latest prodigy Damien Chazelle’s wildly-anticipated follow-up of WHIPLASH (2014), LA LA LAND is an exuberant revamp of the Golden Age’s musical formula and miraculously transposed onto a contemporary milieu, an absolute stunner and expert raconteur chronicles the effervescent romance between a jazz pianist Sebastian (Gosling) and a waitress Mia (Stone), who aims to break into the showbiz in the City of Angels, without ever compromising its realistic spin.
Fully embracing the widescreen splendor, the film’s winning opening gambit is a slithering singing-and-dancing sequence on the chockablock freeway choreographed in one dashing long shot. Then the film pans out its narration of an ever-typical girl-meet-boy story (in this case, it is the girl who makes the first move), divided by seasons with a winter-to-winter rotation, initially, the story bifurcates in two different forks until the two finally hit the ground running, interposed with scintillating music numbers which can hypnotically melt your heart and dazzle your mind. Chazelle adroitly centers on two protagonists through and through like in those vintage romantic flicks where you can see haloes around them, anyone, anything else in their world has all duly faded into the dark background whenever their eyes meet, their hands touch, and they kiss.
Gosling and Stone, whose on-screen dynamism has been patently tested in Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE (2011), let sparks fly higher as they plunge wholeheartedly into the torrid journey, from misunderstanding, meet-cute, falling for each other, to supporting each other’s dreams, taking the middle ground or simply giving up, doubting and bickering, to the highest level of unconditional and unadulterated love – the holy sacrifice to let go of each other when their time is due, the Gosling-Stone pair is superbly amicable, adorable and charismatic, each is blessed with their own tuneful theme songs CITY OF STARS and AUDITION respectively, and satiates viewers with a show-stopping tap-dancing. Gosling, as dapper as ever, oozes with a heart-throbbing attentiveness and devotion as a talented pianist who is bent on opening his own jazz bar, a traditionalist but deadly romantic; Stone, portrays a character so naturally rooted in her chromosomes, an aspiring actress-to-be finally pays her dues after numberless humiliating auditions, her vivacity, comic timing and line delivery are top-notch, both are eyeing for their second Oscar nomination at this stage.
Heading to the upcoming Oscar race, Chazelle, of course, is the one who deserves all the fanfare for his virtuoso directing competence, one will be sublimely intoxicated by his vision of L.A. enveloped with an indelible mauve palette in lieu of its usual sun-dappled glamor, vibrant props and tableaux vivants, not to mention the central music elements, which is always in the veins of Chazelle’s works, his cherry-picked jazz-fusion, the fluent and sleek choreography, Justin Hurwitz’s overwhelmingly soothing attendant score apart from several striking ear-worms, all those above-mentioned herald that a major cinematic director, with a distinct and greatly entertaining aesthetics adorned by his music flair, is in the offing in the land of L.A..
Last but definitely not the least, how can one not praise for the silent epilogue in the end, Chazelle soberly let audience get a view of what would happen to the perfect-matched couple if they were living in an ideal Hollywood fairytale, but reality, in most times, is a far cry from fairytale, we have to move on without our perfect-half, but that is not to say, life will be miserable or intolerable, thanks to Chazelle’s perspicuous vision, in a long run, we might be able to cherish the true happiness once we were fortunately bequeathed, and perhaps, it never leaves us, it always stay with us, to savor, to reminisce and to never give up our dreams.