La La Land

Damien Chazelle's latest is a glorious whirlwind of romance, nostalgia and optimism, a joyous love letter to 50's Hollywood that encapsulates the charm of classic musicals such as Singing in the Rain and Guys & Dolls. From the glorious opening number, set on a crowded LA freeway with drivers leaping from car to car in an incredible one-take scene, through to the beautifully judged epilogue, the film's energy never ceases to charm and impress. 

A relatively simple tale of a hopeless romantic meeting another hopeless romantic, the film rides heavily on the chemistry and likeability of the leads Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. As Sebastian and Mia, the two waltz effortlessly through dazzling dance sequences and catchy musical numbers in a style highly reminiscent of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. Their passionate but unpredictable relationship is a joy to watch and, although filled with many extraordinary moments, it is far from the traditional "boy meets girl" story that has been played out so many times. 

Chazelle's dedications to the Hollywood of old are charming but never overbearing. From the opening titles, with the classic line "Presented in CinemaScope", to Gosling's subtle swing around a lamppost (ala Kelly), it is reminiscent of 2011's fabulous "The Artist" in its nostalgic style. It is an incredibly uplifting experience and, as others have noted, the perfect antidote amidst the general doom and gloom of the last few months. In stark contrast to Chazelle's previous film, the stunning Whiplash, which sparked with tension and a dark, threatening atmosphere, La La Land bursts onto the screen with bright colours and light, humorous dialogue. 

The choreography of the musical numbers is stunning, with the aforementioned opening scene flitting between cast-members at an impressive pace and Gosling and Stone bursting into an impromptu tap-dancing routine with extraordinary skill. In fact many of the scenes become even more impressive when you consider the tight time-frames that Chazelle's team had to film in, being forced to carry out the opening scene in very limited time. The songs, though perhaps more widely spaced out than in other musicals, are all charming and the duets between Sebastian and Mia honest and touching. Characters will break into song out of nowhere without the least surprise from anyone around them, creating a wonderfully un-realistic and romanticised tinge to the film.  

La La Land is destined for glory. Sweeping the Golden Globes with a record-breaking seven awards and predicted to do the same at the Oscars next month, Chazelle has again struck gold. Gosling and Stone are simply sensational in their all singing all dancing roles and Los Angeles is brought to life through dazzling cinematography and heart-warming songs. Chazelle suggests it is sometimes better to look to the past for hope in this hectic world we currently live in.