La La Land at times left me both speechless and breathless. It is abundantly romantic. I believe that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have the best and most vibrant chemistry of any pairing of two modern actors. They light up the screen like beacons of light reflecting off the stars from some distant and ineffable galaxy. There were moments during La La Land when I simultaneously loved and hated the movie, and for the same reasons. Although I did not vote for La La Land to win Best Picture of the year, I certainly would endorse Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling both for Actor and Actress of the year (my phrasing of the award).
La La Land is part musical and part love story. Its central focus is jazz revival and jazz traditionalism. Ryan Gosling plays a character that is poetic and philosophical and classically romantic. He is a dreamer that wants a return of the days of yesteryear. Emma Stone’s character is a dancer, a feisty barista seeking to land a recurring role in a television show. Both are aspiring toward something. His charm is indelible. It is magical. Her sassiness is contagious. The whole relationship between these two star-crossed lovers just flat out works like a charm.
Granted, the singing and dancing from Gosling and Stone are not Broadway caliber, but they more than make up for any apparent deficiencies by acting their hearts out. They seem to have thrown caution to the wind and poured their hearts into this movie.
The cinematography is at times revolutionary. The champagne colors, the rouge glows, the tapdancing like a dervish, it all blends together like an esthetician and a choreographer and a cinematographer plotting some magnum opus together in some backroom only dreaming of making their brainchild a reality.
La La Land is up for several major awards and it deserves every accolade save Best Picture. Regardless, if there is any one movie you must watch before the holiday season, always a fleeting time of year, escapes us and leaves us with the hangover of new challenges and new adventures yet to come, yet to be sprung. La La Land is pure magic, it is scintillating, daring, beautiful, and romantic. And yet, as I write this review, I still hate it just as much as I love it, and I do believe that is truly what makes La La Land so special.