The REAL best picture from last year still has me kind of puzzled as to how a classical Hollywood musical managed to completely blow me away to the point where I ended up seeing it more in the the theater than I did Rogue One. Damien Chazelle is come kind of mad wunderkind. Whiplash was a work of genius, and La La Land is also about music and extols the virtue of jazz, but this couldn’t be more different. An unabashed musical of this sort hadn’t been made since the late 1950s. It’s charming, visually stunning, has amazing music and songs, and finishes in a surprisingly bittersweet, though charming look at what might have been for the film’s stars: Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling).
La La Land is about chasing your dreams, and-ultimately-if you take away a message from the film it’s that you can have your dreams and the person you love the most, but be wary, because the smallest decision, one alteration from what you know in your heart to be the right course, and you’ll end up losing one or the other (or likely both outside of the world of movies). The film’s end flashes forward five years. Mia’s achieved her dream of acting success and Sebastian has his jazz club, which Mia and her husband stumble into one night one the way home. Sebastian, playing the piano, sees Mia, and begins to play their theme, and then Chazelle takes the audience on a trip through an alternate timeline, where things didn’t go wrong between them, and they still got what they wanted. We revisit the music and locales of the film and the entire thing shouldn’t work because we’re too jaded in 2017 for something as hokey as this amazingly shot dance number…but apparently we’re not if it’s done right. This is a perfect film, period.