It's that time of the year again when cinephiles and critics, after sitting through hours of good, bad and ugly flicks, begin to bet on the top contenders of the much-hyped Academy awards. This year, film lovers seem to have fallen for romance and magical realism as La La Land, a musical about dreams, love and loss, emerged as the favourite of many.
Set in Los Angeles, La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle whose 2014 venture Whiplash floored both cine goers and pundits alike, tells the story of a struggling jazz musician and an equally struggling aspiring actor brought together by random acts of fate. Sebastian or Seb (Ryan Gosling) is obsessively picky about what and where he plays and wants a place of his own to ensure that jazz doesn't die “on his watch” and Mia (Emma Stone) has her eyes set on making it big on the silver screen. When these two meet after the inevitable— initial snubs, scorns and banter—love and cliches follow.
Dreams come true at a price, they say, and these beautiful people pay a heavy one. Seasons pass by. Years later, of all the gin joints (okay, restaurants, if precision is your kind of thing) in all the towns in all the world, she walks into Seb's.
The lead pair swirls and spins with effortless ease, thanks to the many months that choreographer Mandy Moore has put in to training the two. Cast opposite each other for a third time (Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad), Stone and Gosling make you believe in the magic of love. But you've seen enough of Gosling as a perfect lover and have adored Stone while she played the girl of your dreams (and Spidey's) a lot many times.
Fans of John Legend, don't get your hopes up. He is better off 'Coming Home' 'So High' to 'Stay With You' than playing an onscreen musician.
Cliches aside, La La Land intends to give you nothing short of a visual ecstasy. Right from the brilliantly-choreographed one-take tracking shot at the opening, Linus Sandgren's camera drags you into the moves and music that follow while Mia and Seb struggle to keep alive their dreams and love.
Justin Hurwitz, who collaborated with Chazelle in Whiplash, manages to create the musical transcendence that La La Land promises. In one of his interviews, Hurwitz had said "He (Chazelle) was telling a story about young dreamers so my music was supposed to get across very often the idea of dreaming". He captures the mood and colour of their dreams and passion with right strings, keys and beats.
If you can overlook the many cliches that come with every tale of love and loss, La La Land, a musical tribute to romance, music and to the great musicals of a bygone era of Hollywood, is sure to enchant you.
Film: La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend