La La Land captivates viewers


Photo obtained through Creative Commons.

Sarah Lynch

On a blustery Saturday, I trekked the streets of Manhattan to see “La La Land,” the movie musical I’d anticipated for months. In a sold out theater near Lincoln Center, the excitement was intoxicating. Even with all the stars seemingly aligned, I feared the film would fall short of my sky-high expectations. Two hours and eight minutes later, I left the theater relieved of all worries and with the giddy feeling that only comes from a truly breathtaking film.

“La La Land” follows the irresistible love story of two struggling artists in modern-day Los Angeles. Mia, played by the endlessly versatile Emma Stone, is a struggling actress who is rejected with disheartening frequency. In her quest to make a name for herself, she stumbles across Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian, who is desperately trying to preserve and re-popularize pure jazz music.

Immediately it is clear that the chemistry between Gosling and Stone has only sweetened since their previous movies together – “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (2011) and “Gangster Squad” (2013). But the most enchanting part of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship is not their romance, but how they encourage each other’s dreams and the impact that support has on both of their lives.

Writer and director Damien Chazelle’s ingenious script, intricate characters and vibrant scenery are nothing short of masterful. Chazelle’s work is further elevated by the catchy and toe-tapping score by Justin Hurwitz, with whom Chazelle collaborated in his 2014 hit, “Whiplash.”

The most touching part of the movie is how deeply Gosling and Stone visibly connect with the characters they play. Not many years ago, they too bounced from audition to audition. Stone told Backstage magazine, “Auditioning, that kind of rejection, I went through three years of that – not six (like Mia), but I knew that world and what that felt like.”

Pure and powerful emotion is at the heart of every aspect of “La La Land.” While the special effects and theatrical aspects are fantastical, the feelings that drive the plot are true and relatable. By the end, I was moved to tears.

“La La Land” is not just a love story; it is not just a musical. It is an awe-inspiring masterpiece that is a tribute to the pianists, actors and artists of the world who work tirelessly and thanklessly every day to enrich our culture and open our minds.