La La Land ★★★★★

As the year closes, Chazelle provides the perfect antidote to the ruthless bastard that is 2016.

There's a conversation in this film where the superb (easily her career best performance) Emma Stone expresses her fears that the play she wrote could be seen as too old-fashioned by people, to which the fantastic (and jealousy inducing bastard) Ryan Gosling responds with a heartfelt 'Fuck other people!'.

This is Chazelle not caring and indulging in what is essentially two hours of movie nostalgia of the highest order. And I loved it.

I'm not the biggest fan of musicals, be they on screen or on stage, but when they're executed on this level they're irresistible. Musicals exist in a funny place. The best of them light -footedly twirl through that ethereal space between fantasy and reality. They possess a distinct and fierce kind of energy, almost like a beast that needs to be tamed so it can be released in all its glory when the occasion warrants it.

Chazelle proves with this delightful and respectful homage to simpler times that he understands this energy really well. He structures his story in the traditional 'seasons' template, starting and ending with winter. There's a danger in this particular structure as the line the plot follows is rather predictable and La La Land is no exception. But with so much energy and abundant love for its subject matter, it is so much easier to allow yourself to be swept away than to complain. Magic is happening, stop yer whinin'.

During the film I felt myself becoming worried about the 'Fall' segment. In the wrong hands, this part could become annoyingly melodramatic. But what Chazelle does here is nothing short of brilliant. He reins it in completely, pushing that energetic beast to the background and forcing us into reality. This had a wonderfully jarring effect, especially because through the immaculate soundtrack that beast is still subtly there, lurking in the shadows, biding its time.

And when it pounces in the final 'Winter' segment, it pounces hard in a montage that is the epitome of bitter sweet smiles and nostalgic tears.

La La Land made smile and dance, with my hands in my pocket and my head in the clouds.

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