Luckily, there’s very little not to like here and while you could argue that our recent dependency on the past has given movie nostalgia a bad name, La La Land is the exception to the rule. Plot-wise, Chazelle keeps things simple. A series of charming chance encounters between a struggling actress and a talented jazz purist place our unlikely couple Mia and Seb on the path for a traditional Hollywood romance. However as love starts to bloom, the struggles of a career/personal life compromise begins to rear its ugly head.
This fairly straight forward conceit is layered in a gaudy, candy coloured exterior that harks back to the classic set-piece musicals of the 50s and early 60s. Chazelle crafts a sacharine sweet world that’s almost timeless. One of pastel pinks and creamcake greens, new Hollywood and time-gone-by jazz, long shots, elaborate dance numbers and even a few long-forgotten camera techniques with a distinctly retro feel. Chazelle frames the whole thing like a collection of vintage LA postcards. It's a beautiful sight.
Technical wizardry and lushious shots aside, La La Land’s leads are equally compelling, if not more so. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling glow ever brighter as their relationship blooms, turning in one of the funniest and layered romantic comedies of recent years. An impressive feat considering this is primarily a musical. Speaking of which, expect to leave La La Land humming its infectious tunes and patiently waiting for the stage adaptation that’s all but inevitable. Watch this space.
It’s only Mia and Seb’s distinctly modern-day struggles that give things a slightly unwelcoming whiff of the present day. As the pressures of this determined, career-driven couple take hold the film feels at its weakest and you’d almost prefer Chazelle kept things rose-tinted. That said, La La Land’s powerful, emotional and bittersweet conclusion pushes all gripes from your mind, leaving you with a tear in your eye and a lump in your throat. Both rare finds in any modern day love story. Turns out Mia and Seb were right all along. Sometimes, too much nostalgia is exactly what you need.
La La Land is released on January 13 2017.