La La Land

La La Land ★★★★

Utterly charming but a little overrated, "La La Land" is a gorgeous love letter to the musicals of classic Hollywood. It masters the difficult dance between delight and despair, soul-lifting and soul-crushing. Its many strengths transcend its major flaw.

Damien Chazelle's candy-colored, dream-like vision makes him a shoo-in for best director. The vibrant colors are breath-taking, utilizing the wonderfully bright hues of CinemaScope, which it was filmed in. The dynamic camerawork and the staging of scenes are phenomenal. The end alone could be a mini-movie in of itself.

The acting by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as two lovers chasing their dreams in Hollywood is fantastic. Their chemistry easily sells the film. But Stone and Gosling are also the film's biggest weakness: They're the leads in a musical, and they aren't singers.

Stone and Gosling don't sing that much, but when they do, you can tell how weak their voices are. The movie literally dances around their lack of singing ability by having other people, such as John Legend, sing instead. Gosling's voice is a little better than Stone's, and that's why "City of Stars" works (and is playing on repeat in my head).

The more I review films, the more I discover that sometimes reviewers like a film in spite of its flaws. That's how I feel about "La La Land." It's a big flaw for the leads of a musical to not sing that well. But the tremendous acting, visuals and directing, ethereal dance sequences, and soothing score add up to a top-notch film.

The film's positives ultimately rise above its big flaw. However, I can't help but wonder what heights the musical could have reached with more capable singers in the leads.

"La La Land" reminded me of the musicals from Hollywood's golden age that I loved growing up. If "La La Land" was a blanket, I would wrap myself up in its warm, soft material.

Rebecca liked this review