La La Land ★★★★

Two struggling artists, an actress and a jazz musician, meet by chance in Los Angeles, fall in love and try to fulfill their dreams. Will they succeed? And if they do, can their relationship survive the inevitable price that has to be paid?

Technically flawless, visually dazzling and emotionally touching, "La La Land" is a wonderful revitalization of the moribund classic musical. Chazelle's vision is one of honoring the old tropes of the genre but at the same time updating them so that they become accessible to a modern crowd which generally sees this kind of films as dated and corny. The jazz argument between Gosling and Legend's characters is the perfect metaphor for what his intentions are. There have been many accusations that this is another self-referential white Hollywood fairy tale, but I disagree with that. The story is pretty much universal and any forced diversity would do nothing to improve its quality. If there is one nitpick to make is that the songs while good are hardly impressive. I doubt any of them will become a classic in the vein of "Singin' in the Rain" or "Bye Bye Life".

This being essentially a two-person story, the performances of the leads are crucial to the overall outcome. And the choices of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone couldn't have been more felicitous. Stone has the face of a manga heroine come to life with her huge eyes and striking red hair. And Chazelle weaponizes that face with a number of emotional scenes which he films in Leone-like close-ups. Gosling's part is less showy but he is equally good. These two actors are in their third pairing and it's obvious that they have developed a strong chemistry. Their interaction feels natural and the romance believable.

You don't have to be a genius to understand why "La La Land" became such a huge hit on all levels. It's a vibrant, 100% fresh piece of filmmaking that shows once again how false is the dilemma "artistic or commercial". It's a life-affirming experience, full of energy and optimism, but with an ending grounded in the real world.
I predict that this will be one for the ages.