Directed By: Damien Chazelle Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone My Rating: 10 out of 10 It should have come as no shock that this film was good. Everyone has been raving about this since it came out and it's been cleaning up at the major award ceremonies as well, but I have to say I didn't expect it to be quite as brilliant as it was. This film is a complete throwback to cinema of old, shot with a very fresh, modern twist that gives it such vibrancy and flair that I was absolutely hooked from the start.
As a lover of old black and white films, where this kind of singing and dancing was the norm, it truly scratched an itch that Hollywood seems to have forgotten about and then there's the music! Such phenomenal music. I was watching something magical, I was completely blown away by the cinematography, some scenes felt vintage but full of youthful energy, the shots so perfectly lit and coloured so beautifully that it was a treat for the eyes. A particular highlight that I simply said "wow" was at a pool party scene, Mia, played by Emma Stone, walks through the party shot in slow motion. Almost like a mannequin challenge shot, before exploding to life as people hit the water around her, this was one of many that simply took my breath away whilst watching.
It would also be rude not to mention how abundantly clear it was that Los Angeles is an absolutely stunning setting, every shot which featured a backdrop of this place looked like it could work for the tourist board. So it looked great, I have made that pretty clear, but films don’t get 10’s just for looking good, it has to have enough substance within to make it truly memorable and thankfully the story is fantastic.
You might think that a boy meets girl romance story could be pretty run of the mill stuff, predictable, obvious and somewhat tedious, but I believe this was quite an original version of that kind of story. It builds and builds on a romance that you can't help but fall in love with yourself, before it finishes off in an uncharacteristically cheese-free way. This added a touch of class and realism something often thrown away cheaply by most rom-coms out there.
To play this story out to its potential it needed a charismatic and likeable lead, fortunately we are given two. Emma Stone is perfect throughout as the struggling wannabe actress. Her dancing and singing every bit as good as it needed to be to make you fall in love with the character on screen. Then we have Ryan Gosling. I have been a massive Gosling fan for a while, a proper man crush on this fella ever since “Drive” blew me away moons ago. However, this was something else. My affection for this man has reached a level that should come complete with a caution sign. In this movie he plays jazz lover Seb, a pianist trying to make it and achieve a goal of opening his own club to showcase the music he loves. I love this guy, I see bits of myself in this guy and by God do I wish I had this guy's looks. Both had remarkable on screen chemistry throughout, which gave the story believability and though these weren’t the finest dramatic performances I have seen this year, the ability to provide such entertainment whilst singing and dancing should be heralded.
Last but certainly not least, the music.
For anyone who has been around me for a beverage, over the last few years in the early hours of a morning, you may know I like a spot of Jazz. I can often be found warbling at around 5am about the glory of these tender smooth brass filled jams...so to have a movie harking back to this gorgeous genre of music was always going to win my heart. Stand out track “City of Stars” excellently carries through the entire movie and provides stunning atmosphere in multiple scenes, but particularly the use of it toward the end providing such a classic moment. The opener “Another Day of Sun” bursts the film into life and you never look back. The subtlety of a track known as “Mia & Seb’s Theme" provides a playful but gorgeous tinkle of the ivories that makes the film sound as good as it looked. Negatives? What negatives? I can’t find one, I sit here trying to be impartial about it but all I can remember is the sheer joy I had watching this film!
Damien Chazelle, only 32 years old has already provided us with the stunning film “Whiplash” but this was another level. It makes me so excited to think what more he can provide in the future, it simply baffles me how he has encapsulated the spirit of those old time movies with ease, the film is full of energy, beautiful moments of picture, bursts of happiness, a wealth of sincerity and keeping a touch of class throughout the entire thing. A perfect film that will go down as one of the greatest of all time, it could only score one thing in my eyes, a solid 10 and that truly is worth singing and dancing about.