Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to the 2014 masterpiece Whiplash shows what massive potential the early career filmmaker has, the romantic drama film explores dreams and where that can take someone in their life through Mia, a wannabe actress who is tired of failed auditions and working as a barista, and Sebastian, a bitter Jazz piano player who is scared of the death of the genre.
The City of angels is shot beautifully by Linus Sandgren, giving the audience a feeling of awe. The vibrant beautiful colours make this film in the neon lights and costumes from Mary Zophres are stunning to behold. Technically, this film is executed perfectly from the cinematography to choreography. The cinematography during ‘A Lovely Night’ takes full advantage of a stunning city view and a beautiful magic hour sky which is a mix of purple and orange.
The film splits its first-quarter into Mia’s (Emma Stone) perspective and Sebastian’s (Ryan Gosling) perspective with a scene at a restaurant tying the two perspectives together in a bow. This gives context as to where our two main characters are in their lives. In this scene, we also get to hear ‘Mia & Sebastian’s Theme’ for the first time, composed by Justin Hurowitz, the whole score feels dynamic and grand in scale. The music is perfectly crafted for the film, it never feels cheesy or awkward as many musicals can do.
Emma Stone, who gives a great performance. With standout scenes including her performance during ‘Someone in the Crowd,’ a reluctant song where she is convinced to go to a party by her three equally vibrantly dressed friends. The slow walk out of the bathroom with the world going in slow motion is one of the best shot sequences in the film. Which of course ends in fireworks. Another standout scene, features A Flock of Seagulls’ I Ran and some amazing in your face dancing from Stone.
Traffic. Los Angeles is known for being awful for it, this film’s opening sequence manages to turn that into something whimsical and grand. ‘Another Day of Sun’ plays over dancing on cars on a congested freeway. The song introduces the audience to dreaming big and following your ambitions no matter where it takes you, it’s a great mirror into what the story will become much later in the second and third acts. It’s an impressive scene that takes place in one shot!
The film takes a look at Hollywood and has some quite humorous moments, making fun of cliches and movie making in general, but it’s always in a very loving and sentimental way. Musical fans and film buffs are sure to have a field day finding references to other musicals and old Hollywood films.