After watching the film I came out singing “What a waste of a lovely night”, but that was definitely not how I felt upon watching this film. The film is about two artists (a jazz musician and an actress) who try to balance their careers and their relationship in Los Angeles. The movie stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and is directed by Whiplash-director Damien Chazelle.
The best part of this movie is definitely Chazelle’s eye for directing. Every shot is so well-constructed with such an eye for color and such incredible use of set-pieces and color in the telling of the story. For Chazelle, who also wrote the screenplay, this film is definitely emotional which is incredibly clear in one scene in which Stone and Gosling are sitting down for dinner, but end up arguing. This particular scene is perhaps one of the best-written scenes in a musical-movie. But all is not well with the screenplay: and this is the one reason the movie did not get a 10/10. The dialogue is a little wishy-washy and the movie starts to drag about 30-minutes before its over.
The acting, however, is very strong with both Stone and Gosling giving great performances that also truly shows off some of their incredible chemistry. Stone especially manages to take a somewhat plain character and give her such quirkiness, charm, and vulnerability. On the other hand, Gosling does wonderfully at creating a character that at first glance is rough around the edges, but as the film progresses he starts showing a little more emotion behind the facade. John Legend also delivers a good– somewhat forgettable, but still good– performance that works well into the story of the film.
Also deserving a mention is the brilliant score and soundtrack of this film. Composer and songwriter Justin Hurwitz manages to bring so much life and emotion into the movie by carefully using a series of little melodies to bring the audiences attention to certain aspects of the film. The lyric-writing team, Pasek and Paul, also helped in writing some truly wonderful songs that bring the characters and city to life. Most memorable of these songs are probably “City of Stars”, “The Audition” and “Lovely Night”.
Overall there is very little to dislike about this film. The only thing that lacks is perhaps the dialogue and plotting, but honestly: this is a musical so the screenplay is only secondary. The acting is well-crafted and the movie both sounds and looks brilliant. This is a must-watch (and perhaps even a must -double-watch as you get significantly more out of second viewing) and if you haven’t seen it yet you know what to do.