by Richard Alaba
Imagine the opening scene: high on a Los Angeles freeway a young woman jumps out of her traffic-jammed car and bursts into song and dance. She is copied by scores of other motorists all gyrating in sync with the scene filmed from above in a single take. A boy and a girl make eye contact and this is where the story begins. Mia (Emma Stone) spends her days repeatedly missing out on auditions for her ‘big chance’ in Hollywood, while Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a surly dreamer who wants to open a jazz club. A pre-dawn song and dance routine - a la Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - sets them up for love.
This film is full of memorable moments. A scene where Sebastian talks passionately about the dynamics of jazz musicianship is captivating; the moonlight walks through the city are surreal; and the final scene against a painfully hesitant piano solo of ‘City of Stars’ will squeeze tears out of anyone - and then make you hum the melody for days.
The La La Land camera is like an artist’s brush that composes beautiful portraits against stunning urban landscapes in colour palettes that are richly retro yet modern. This is a film to bathe yourself in, let its exuberance, musicality, and nonsensical scenes of flyaway romance dazzle you. Today’s world needs more la la land.
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