Vince The Cinephile’s review published on Letterboxd:
A film that ultimately uplifts this depressing, shitty year of 2016 is none other than La La Land. This film is pure joy from start to finish. When I saw Whiplash two years ago, I’ve written in my review that Chazelle is a director to watch and with this, he surpasses himself. Essentially, La La Land is a cinematic tribute to the bygone golden era of movie musicals. Influenced by so many musical-romance classics, La La Land puts a refreshing spin to this genre with the help of its profoundly charismatic lead stars who danced their way to pure euphoria.
Like Whiplash, La La Land is about the pursuit of artistic ambition. The film follows two dreamers: a jazz musician and an aspiring actress who fell in love while actively pursuing their dreams. Chazelle wants to show that even if life lets you down, as long as you dream big and work hard...you will achieve your dream. La La Land is optimistic and blissfully nostalgic as every other musical there is. The musical sequences are dazzling, the camera work is phenomenal and the whole execution is pure gift.
There is an argument I’ve read saying that La La Land’s musical numbers are not ‘musical’ enough which is to say that it is not theatrical. Though being a fan of both mediums, I felt that La La Land is just right amount of musicality in it. There is restraint more than bombast, and it should be. This is an original movie musical where the aim is for the cinematic medium not theater. Just look the contrasts between Les Miserables and this. Huge, huge difference.
The acting is predictably strong buoyed by infectious chemistry of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Gosling and Stone are not great dancers or singers, but they are still sharp as a convincing movie musical couple. Their palpable rapport makes every step and verse transcendent and in the end, it’s all that matters. Gosling somehow acts like he’s in a different movie, but remains reliable throughout. Stone is the MVP imbuing rich heart and soul to every aspiring individual who dreams big.
Overall, the ending to La La Land is spot-on. I love how Chazelle managed to subvert our expectations and genre trappings as it landed on the right note. It’s bittersweet after all, but Chazelle never stopped in bringing positivity and love with all of the things that came before. This is a sweeping, promising achievement.
”Here’s to the ones who dream!”