La La Land

La La Land ★★★★★

La La Land is a wonder. After a brilliant mainstream debut in Whiplash, Damien Chazelle has matured impressively. He directs with a precision of a orchestra conductor. His films feel like the jazz that they represent, spontaneous, energetic and pleasant. The way he stages the musical numbers never fail to make you smile, and he brilliantly constructs the film to drop out the singing again and again, just making you feel the beautiful music.

Stone and Gosling are both marvelous as Mia and Sebastian. Tapping into their charisma and marrying them with their sublimely realistic characters, they sell us on this story and make us root for them both, despite how impossible that may be at points. The rest of the cast does their part as well as an ensemble can do in a musical, and Chazelle wisely gives these side actors time to shine at a few instances during it, while not drawing attention away from our two leads.

The music is consistently delightful. The score by Justin Hurwitz and songs by Pasek and Paul mirror each other in a way film musicals rarely do, being fully aware there is a time and place for both of them. The dancing continuously impresses, and at multiple sequences will audience members want to break out in applause.

Perhaps La La Land's greatest achievement is how it transcends being a throwback. Yes, it feels like an old musical, but yet it also feels thoroughly modern, while not at the cost of its sincerity. Everything in it feels real, and that's painful at points. Yet, it's all so lovely because of this authenticity, not in spite of it. La La Land is one of the most joyous times you'll ever spend inside a movie theater. It's also a crowning achievement for Chazelle, Stone, Gosling, Hurwitz, Pasek, Paul and everyone else involved in the making of it. A modern masterpiece.

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