La La Land Review
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Just two years ago, writer/director Damien Chazelleís debut feature, Whiplash, captivated audiences, wowed critics, and took home three well-deserved Oscars. Now heís back with the jazzy follow-up, La La Landóa magical, musical Hollywood romance thatís already set its sights on award season gold.

La La Land tells the story of an actress and a musician as they follow their dreams in LA. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress who works as a barista on the Warner Bros. lot between auditions. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a talented jazz pianist who dreams of opening his own club and keeping jazz music alive. After running into each other in the streets and clubs and house parties of LA, they find themselves falling in loveóand their budding relationship begins to guide the choices they make in their careers.

La La Land is delightfully different yet brilliantly familiar. From the first song-and-dance number (set during one of those notorious LA traffic jams), itís both modern and old-fashioned; itís playful and vibrant and loaded with nostalgia for classic Hollywood musicals. Really, itís like a gorgeous dreamóthe kind of dream thatís so striking and so enchanting that you have a hard time adjusting to reality once itís over. The kind that you want to revisit.

But this isnít just a fluffy romantic comedyóso it isnít always cheery and playful. Like any real relationship, it has moments of sheer joy and moments of heartbreak and disappointment, too. Like any of us, these two characters mess things up; they make some mistakes, and they donít always agree. Their relationship is complicated and messyóand that change in tone can sometimes feel a little unsettling. But their story is truly beautiful in its honesty.

Chazelle creates such a breathtaking backdrop for his captivating musical romanceóand his attention to light and color (paired with a gifted costume designer) make shot after shot feel absolutely gallery-worthy. But itís the stars who give the film its charm. Stone and Gosling couldnít be much better; theyíre perfect together, and theyíre perfect for the film. Both have a cool, classic Hollywood style. Both can be sweet or sarcastic or silly (and Goslingís Mickey Mouse Club experience clearly didnít hurt). And they play off each other with such remarkable ease that they make almost every scene all the more delightful.

More than just a flighty Hollywood musical, La La Land is beautiful and bittersweet, effervescent but honest. Itís the must-see release of this yearís award season.

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