Writer-director Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to his sizzling, Oscar-winning jazz drum drama Whiplash, La La Land is a dazzling homage to the golden age of Hollywood musicals – with more than a touch of Jacques Demy’s 1960s French New Wave musicals The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Les Demoiselles de Rochefort thrown in for good measure, too.
Opening with a bravura sequence in which a traffic jam on an LA flyover turns into a stunningly choreographed dance routine, the movie goes on to explore the bittersweet love story of two LA hopefuls whose meet cute is a fleeting, fractious encounter in this traffic snarl-up: Emma Stone’s aspiring actress Mia and Ryan Gosling’s purist jazz pianist Sebastian.
With Stone and Gosling in utterly beguiling form in the leading roles, Chazelle’s movie balances joyous uplift with a touching undercurrent of sadness. It charmed audiences as the opening film of this year’s Venice Film Festival and looks set to do the same here in London.
La La Land shows today at 10.30am at the Odeon Leicester Square and also shows at the Curzon Mayfair on Sunday 16 October at 8pm. Its UK release is scheduled for 13 January 2017.