Director Damien Chazelle continues his success after 2014’s Whiplash with another incredible music centered drama starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.  This modern-day musical set in LA is gaining hype and praise, which I can safely say is very well deserved.

The Good

Damien Chazelle Delivers Another Perfect Story


Of all the major genres of film, I’d definitely say that musicals are among my least favorite.  I often find musical numbers distract from the story, and it can be tough to make them relevant, while also having them resonate with viewers.  Yet Damien Chazelle manages to do this magnificently!  Between his excellent writing and flawless direction, this movie is such a breath of fresh air from what we’re so used to seeing in film today.  The musical elements are extremely well choreographed and are so much fun to watch.  There is also a surprising amount of humor in this film as well!  Honestly, Chazelle has truly honed his craft at this point.

Technically and Narratively Beautiful


This movie has been described as “A love letter to LA”.  While I can definitely see why (LA is shot magnificently in this movie, and it pokes plenty of fun at the showbiz culture), I think this is a love letter to dreamers and artists.  Film is a tough industry to make it in, and this movie is for those who dare to try and succeed within it.  With that said, this story has so much passion! Yes, between the two leads themselves (we’ll touch on that next), but also between their respective dreams.  If you don’t leave this film wanting to get out into the world and make something of yourself, then I don’t think we watched the same movie!

Furthermore, the cinematography and production of this film is incredibly beautiful.  There are so many long sweeping shots that are brilliantly cut together which keep your eyes completely glued to the screen for the entire runtime.  In addition to the visuals, the music is very well done (which I would hope for in a musical), and my goodness it adds such a deep layer of emotion to this film!  I still find myself humming various tunes to this day!

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are Brimming with Chemistry


Not only is this a great feel-good movie, but it’s also an exceptional love story. Much of that is due to Emma and Ryan’s brilliant chemistry on-screen.  They go tit for tat with humor, and have enough adorable moments together to make even the most hardened hearts stir.  These two really make this movie special, and man is it a powerful rollercoaster of emotions throughout their on-screen relationship.  Some of these scenes really hit you hard right in the feels, and that is a pure testament to these two wonderful performances.  While their singing may not be up to par for most musical purists, I think they both did very well (Emma maybe a little more than Ryan, but who really cares at this point?).  It’s hard to believe that Miles Teller and Emma Watson were originally supposed to be the duo here, and I am so glad that didnt work out!

The Bad

Honestly, I Can’t Think of Anything!


I really can’t!  I adored this film through and through!  Every year or so there’s a movie that will come out of nowhere and truly stun me.  In 2014 it was Damien’s previous film Whiplash.  Last year it was Room.  This year it’s La La Land.  I never would have expected a musical to floor me like this one did.  It’s such a fun, touching, and captivating film that you have to love and appreciate.

The Tally

Performances: 5/5

  • This is one of Emma Stone’s best performances by far and is the culmination of how of far she’s grown in her career.
  • Ryan Gosling is equally fantastic as the male lead, and has clearly put a lot of work into making this character believable and passionate. (Yes, he does actually play piano that well…)
  • The chemistry between these two is so palpable, and really makes this story rich and emotionally captivating.  We not only believe the love between these two, but also the fervor towards their dreams.

Direction: 5/5

  • I am thoroughly impressed with what Damien Chazelle accomplished in this movie.
  • This story is told at a masterful level, and Chazelle’s vision is fully realized in such an artistically marvelous way.

Production: 5/5

  • LA has never looked more beautiful in a movie.
  • The cinematography in this film is absolutely breathtaking with all of it’s gorgeous color palettes, lighting, and use of long sweeping takes.
  • Choreography here is very well done and really boosts the feel-good tone this movie has throughout the film.

Writing: 5/5

  • Chazelle’s screenplay here is just as great as his directing.
  • The characters are exceedingly charming and lovable, but their relationship is also very realistic and believable.
  • The movie is an incredibly love story, and not just in a relational way. It’s also a deep love for your passions and dreams, as well as that yearning to succeed.

Score: 5/5

  • It’s very rare for me to genuinely enjoy and admire the music in a musical (outside of a Disney movie), but I just can’t get enough of this score.
  • The actual score (instrumental) of this film is beautiful and helps create such a deep layer of emotion.
  • The musical numbers themselves are exceptionally catchy and will have you humming them for weeks.

Enterainment: 5/5

  •  I didnt really know what to expect going into this film and I was a little hesitant to even see it since it’s a musical.  In the end, however, this movie completely blew my socks off.
  • This is film is visually dazzling and a pure joy to watch on that note alone.
  • The story will have you laughing, tapping your feet, sentimentally sighing with endearment, or tearing up from one moment to the next.

Total Score: 30/30

Final Score: 10/10

Curious how I rate movies?  Click here!

Seriously everyone, GO SEE THIS MOVIE.  Don’t listen to all the “it’s so overrated” comments that are circulating around.  People love it for a reason!  This is one of the few movies of 2016 that had me smiling ear to ear after watching (that is, after wiping the tears from my eyes and picking my jaw off the floor).