If you want to win a whole host of Oscars then providing a beautifully crafted film that pays homage to Hollywood is a good start.
The front-runner for Academy Awards gongs – after it notched a record-breaking seven awards at the Golden Globes last week – is this smartly devised musical-drama from the writer/director of Whiplash, Damien Chazelle.
Throw in arguably Tinseltown’s finest young actors – Gangster Squad co-stars Ryan Gosling (The Notebook) and Emma Stone (Birdman) – who are both on absolutely sizzling form, then you know you’re onto a good thing.
Oh, and to top it off, they both won Best Acting awards for a Musical or Comedy at the Globes, along with Best Director for Chazelle, and Best Film. So first major awards comfortably seen off. Box ticked.
In this stylish movie Gosling stars as down-on-his-luck jazz musician Sebastian – aspiring to keep the traditional sound from the Miles Davis era alive but only ends up dishing out commercial hits in a restaurant – with Stone as aspiring actress Mia – fighting to keep her LA dream afloat (with a picture of Ingrid Bergman on her wall) despite rejection after rejection while working in a coffee shop on the Warner Bros movie lot.
This drama is interlaced with musical numbers as it chronicles them trying to make it, then meeting up, falling in love – then battling to maintain their relationship as the dreams they worked so hard to maintain threaten to tear them apart.
Director Chazelle does a terrific job in creating that perfect balance of setting the scene of California’s dream-eating city across the four seasons of the year, and interspersing the right amount of non-over bearing musical interludes alongside the sassy and sharp-tongued Seb/Mia relationship, that is always engaging.
Gosling and Stone are simply sensational in the lead roles, sparking off each other throughout, and despite the tone probably not being to everyone’s tastes, this does a tremendous job of portraying the Hollywood that everyone knows is out of touch with reality – focusing on fantasies and frivolous endeavours.
This is cleverly seen in the finale in which an alternate universe shows that thin lines show what a fickle world this La La Land really is – which is usually a graveyard for many a dream.
It will have tough competition from Manchester by the Sea – as will Gosling from Affleck for that Best Actor gong – come Oscar time, but the glitz and glamour of the movie capital portrayed so eclectically on-screen should bring this through.
So if you’re a fan of Gosling, Stone, Whiplash (as in the film) or non-heavy musicals in general – then this is about as good as it gets.
Hollywood will simply eat this up – and so should most movie-goers too.
Gavin Miller[youtube id=”0pdqf4P9MB8″ width=”600″ height=”350″]
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Jk Simmons, John Legend, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Rosemarie Dewitt, Finn Wittrock, Josh Pence, Damon Gupton, Miles Anderson & Tom Everett Scott
Running Time: 2 Hrs 8 Mins
Director: Damien Chazelle
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