27 January 2017.
LA LA LAND ****
Damien Chazelle, the 31 year-old director of this glorious film is the new wonder boy of Hollywood. He was first noticed for his brilliant second film “Whiplash”, which won an array of awards some two years ago. No one would have imagined he could top that one, and then he came out with this magical concoction. A modern romantic musical derived from the old school of great Hollywood musicals, but then going beyond them, becoming an enchanting musical-réalité that thrills and moves us with an innocence yet age-old wisdom to it.
The opening scene sets the mood – an exuberant song and dance on a congested California highway – celebrating the sun, the day, life in its entirety. A bit of “West Side Story” here. Then starts the bittersweet tale of love between a young girl looking for her first break in movies and a jazzman whose dream is to open up his own jazz club. Both frustrated, reluctant, holding back at first, then sweetly, naturally breaking into song and dance, like “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” or “Singing in the Rain”. And what a couple they make – Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone just melt into each other, their love solving all problems, until their separate careers come into play…bringing reality into this magical revery.
Chazelle’s talent is grand and varied, with one connecting thread – music, for he is a musician himself. “Whiplash” was gripping, ferocious, harsh, about the passion of jazz, whereas LaLa Land is exactly as its name implies – a magical land that captivates, glorifies, yet also divides. It’s all here – the recurring melodies and hesitant dancing, the anxieties, the euphoria and the letdown. It’s life, after all, wrapped in the glitter of Tinseltown. And a jubilant homage to so many films such as “An American in Paris” or the dizzying, circling moments in a Claude Lelouche work.
It picked up all of its seven nominations at the Golden Globes – Best Film, Director, Actor, Actress, etc, etc. Now with a record 14 nominations, Oscars, here it comes!
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.