La La Land

La La Land ★★★★½

I have never been a fan of musicals, so I was skeptical of the critically acclaimed La La Land. But director Damien Chazelle's previous work, Whiplash, blew me away, and so I had to check out his latest feature. It turns out he's not just a one hit wonder.

La La Land is a modern musical, set in present day but very much a throwback and tribute to 50's era Hollywood musicals. Pretty much everything about this film works, particularly the two leads. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both great, and their chemistry feels very authentic.

The soundtrack is entirely original music, and every song is wonderfully composed and extremely catchy. The vibrant color palette and inventive cinematography give the film an ethereal feeling.

The dancing numbers are impressively choreographed, particularly an opening scene with hundreds of people dancing on a freeway in a single unbroken take. Chazelle had his actors do all the singing and dancing, and the result is surprisingly rewarding. His passion for the project shines, and elevates the film to a whole new level.

I have but one complaint with La La Land. It runs a bit too long, ten minutes could have been cut from the middle act to make the narrative flow better. During the second act musical numbers are sparse, and it's during this section a few minutes could have been removed.

A minor complaint in an otherwise wonderful film, La La Land will easily win over audiences with its accessible theme of pursuing your dreams. With an excellent soundtrack, great performances, stellar direction, and a touching story, La La Land proves you don't have to be a fan of musicals to appreciate its greatness.

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