La La Land ★★★★

As Scott Tobias described in is his podcast "The Next Picture Show", La La Land will wow the audiences who have never seen the source material. Damien Chazelle's Oscar front-runner is a blend of the Astaire/Rogers films of the 30's, the Hollywood setting of Singing In The Rain and the color and melancholy of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg all with a modern twist. Due to my cursory knowledge of most of those influences, I adore this movie. From the opening number that breathes life into the numbing traffic of the 405, I became mesmerized with the vibrant, heightened world of what is essentially my backyard. Gosling and Stone are truly America's Sweethearts as I could watch countless movies of them falling in love. The first act is primarily conflict free as we're watching meet-cutes, party banter and first dates. Their chemistry is so convincing and their foreplay through dance is electric. The choreography is stronger and more developed than the singing or even the songs as Gosling's voice is a bit weak and Stone refrains from belting till her big number. That limitation is forgivable as the second act of the film drops most of its musical inclinations for a romance drama as the two are pulled apart by work and pursuing their chosen passions. The ending is heartbreaking and affected me more than any other rom-com I've encountered because I was so invested in their relationship and seeing the what-could-have-been play out is soul crushing. La La Land is everything I could have asked for when it comes to a modern musical starring pretty people who have the rhythm that I lack. I want to live in this Los Angeles fantasy world of summer dresses, nighttime rendezvous through the Observatory and almost kissing at the Rialto. Steven, want to join me?