Movie Review: La La Land

La_La_Land_(film)Damien Chazelle’s kaleidoscopic modern musical La La Land (B+) explores the eternal question of whether you should put your art or your love life first. Or maybe you can have both. OK, it’s not exactly a universal question – and possibly a first-world problem at that – but in the hands of starry-eyed and fleet-footed leads Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, they surely confront these themes with a charm offensive. After an impressive musical number atop and around cars stopped on the Los Angeles freeway (west coast Fame meets West Side Story), the film riffs into Meet Cutes and Meet-Not-So-Cutes, ups and downs and very few surprises aside from it all being a musical. Much is done in an Umbrellas of Cherbourg type leitmotif, but it doesn’t necessarily rain with consistent results. The songs are ok – Stone shines in a big audition number – and the technicolor dance sequences are quite luminous. Gosling gets his best role yet, with the film exploiting many of his dapper deadpan assets. Stone is a radiant delight, with note-perfect expressions and game takes on a sometimes cliché ingenue part. The whole enterprise would have benefited from some supporting characters and a smidge more substance. But this love letter to a town where dreams are made, dashed and rehashed is pretty nifty to behold. Sometimes it’s a film that begs to be loved just a bit too much.

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