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Winner of 6 Academy Awards including Best Director for writer/director Damien Chazelle, and winner of a record-breaking 7 Golden Globe Awards, La La Land is more than the most acclaimed movie of the year - it's a cinematic treasure for the ages that you'll fall in love with again and again. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star as Mia and Sebastian, an actress and a jazz musician pursuing their Hollywood dreams, and finding each other, in a vibrant celebration of hope, dreams, and love.
La La Land is an interesting film, combining the styles of a stage musical, with a romantic comedy, and an overall jazz theme. The jazz theme alone is a fascinating if not controversial choice, considering the largely Caucasian cast. Gone are the days where musicals were written and sung in a way that really allowed the viewer to understand the lyrics, but at the same time, photography and choreography have come so far that the purpose and plot associated with the songs are discernible without the need for lyrics.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the principle protagonists throughout the film, and do a brilliant job portraying the frustrations of those in the acting and musical world trying to make it big. Unlike most Hollywood films, where the protagonists reach their goals through sheer positivity and luck, we are struck with a closer shot of realism; the knowledge that talent, and determination can often lead to nowhere, and we get a glimpse into why the industry crushes so many dreams.
Emma Stone is the real winning component to the film, with her portrayal of the wannabe actress stuck in a menial job as a barista. Despite being a well known established actress in reality, she successfully pulls off the look and actions of someone with grand dreams, who is starting to lose faith in her ability to get there. She wins your heart with her smile, and your heart sinks when things don't go her way. Ryan Gosling also does well, but really his character is a lot less likeable. The idealistic musician who has talent, but refuses to play ball, comes across as stubborn, cocky, and arrogant. He has a confidence that is smarmy, and while the women seemed to enjoy it, it annoyed the hell out of me. But I do have to admit his presence is necessary, as his attitude is one of the driving forces of the film.
The photography and cinematography is near enough faultless; the colouration of the film alone, gives a period feeling to the film, which helps the musical aspect along that much more. The song styles fit very well, and while the choreography does feel out of place at times, it does provide more intensity to the moment.
I much preferred the first act of the film, the honeymoon stage, and the uplifting aura of Stone's performance. But it was the final act that really sold it. This isn't a typical film. It is something that requires a little bit more attention when you watch it. But it's a treat, and worth a watch.
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