LA LA LAND – A Review By Nick Askam



I’m going to stop picking my favorite movie of the year until this year is over. At this rate, I will have at least 20 favorite movies of the year at different points in time. That’s almost 2 a month. For that reason, I am going to stop saying what movies I think are film of the year until it’s over.

La La Land is a fantastic film full of energy and charisma. It shows a true look into the life of struggling artist who just has so much passion that needs to be fulfilled. It’s a love letter to the city of Los Angeles, old school Hollywood, and jazz. This combination along with amazing performances from Emma Watson and Ryan Gosling truly make a wonderful film. It’s touching and soul crushing, but it’s so reward when the end is shown.

Damien Chazelle is one of my favorite directors working. I think his ability with the camera matches any top director working today. After Whiplash and now La La Land, the only way is up for Chazelle. I love how he uses music and his actors to weave narratives that can make your heart sing to almost explode from anxiety to sinking down to your stomach. He truly makes and writes wonderful films. The images and sounds that he brings to life are awe inspiring.

La La Land is about an actress, Mia (Emma Stone), who is trying to make it in LA. She goes into many auditions and each time is turned away before she can even say a line. Through chance she meets a struggling jazz musician, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), with a dream to open up his own club. Then, they accidentally keep bumping into each other and decide to start a relationship. They decide to pursue their dreams in different ways and it changes the nature of their love.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have amazing chemistry. I know Stone joked that Gosling filed a restraining order on her, but these two come together and create magic. There’s no other way for me to put it because I don’t know how to describe it otherwise. I’ve never been so invested in an on-screen relationship. I actually said “ohhh… nnooo” a few times out loud. Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one who was doing this and that there were not many people in this theater. I’m still awestruck that the chemistry was so strong between these two. I know they worked together in other movies (Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad), but their chemistry really shows in this film. That’s why I can’t honestly say that it’s anything else other than magic.

The supporting characters have limited roles, but they shine when they’re on screen. John Legend, J.K. Simmons, and Rosemarie DeWitt have small roles. They definitely don’t waste any of their limited screen time to shine. J.K. Simmons should always be a musical mentor. He has the demeanor to awake several years of trying to forget my high school band experience just by showing up on screen. He’s once again frightening just because of how much power that he has for an artist who just wants to express himself. The way that he controls Gosling is exciting and fun. John Legend adds a dimension to this film because he’s so talented. It’s shown on his face every time he has to say something enlightening to Gosling. His experience in the industry shaped this performance and made it something to be inspired by. Finally, Rosemarie DeWitt felt like Gosling’s actual sister. I had to look it up that they weren’t related after the film because they had such a good brother—sister chemistry. She was so good as the protective sister. I love how she kept telling Gosling to grow up. Just from having those conversations with my parents, I felt like it was her genuinely trying to help.

The soundtrack makes me jump with joy and feel immense sadness. It finds its way into your heart and plays with it for over two hours. It combines jazz and an old school musical feel to engage you fully. I don’t know many other soundtracks that have moved me like this one. I felt connected to it; I felt like I was a part of it. The soundtrack is the foundation of the film and it allows everything else to fall into place. The opening song was stuck in my head for days. Not many songs, in general, do that.

Overall, this movie is amazing. I think if you’re someone who is a struggling artist or even a successful one, this film will give you inspiration to do the next thing. I think this is just about equal to Whiplash. Both films take you on a magical journey that ends with feelings of release. The tension and emotions build so high that when it’s over, you just feel free. I wish more directors made me feel this way. This film is near perfect and I can’t wait to see it again.


Grade: A+



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