Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - LIFESTYLE -

DAMIEN Chazelle loves jazz and his pas­sion is in­fec­tious.

A self-ap­pointed cham­pion of the style with his films Guy and Made­line on a Park Bench (2009) and Whiplash (2014), he likes to re­mind us of th­ese smooth tunes.

He con­tin­ues to spread the good word with the de­light­ful La La Land.

A year after as­pir­ing ac­tress Mia (Emma Stone) and cool cat jazz pi­anist Se­bas­tian (Ryan Gosling) are in­volved in a mi­nor road rage ex­change of horn honk­ing and mid­dle fin­ger pulling, their paths cross again.

They even­tu­ally be­come ro­man­ti­cally in­volved after declar­ing in a lamp pole swing­ing, sun­set-back­drop tap danc­ing num­ber that they can’t stand each other.

But Mia’s am­bi­tions to be a suc­cess­ful actor and Se­bas­tian’s to be a steadily em­ployed pi­anist in a dy­ing genre of mu­sic demon­strate their paths may never al­ways be par­al­lel.

La La Land’s story is fa­mil­iar; the cliches are there but the pre­sen­ta­tion is daz­zling, with en­thu­si­as­tic per­for­mances and danc­ing from the ac­tors, and a pen­chant for stun­ning sun­sets and cute ro­man­tic mo­ments.

The fluffy first half, in­spired by the ’50s clas­sic mu­si­cals, is a pure de­light, with Chazelle em­u­lat­ing the dis­tinct style and cap­tur­ing the long­gone spirit and en­ergy of the genre with his rose-tinted lens.

That rose tint­ing slowly dulls, though, with harsh re­al­i­ties set­ting in and a few tear­jerk­ing mo­ments of­fer­ing sub­stance to a so far stylish af­fair.

Re­leas­ing this dur­ing Os­car sea­son seems like a no-brainer; the Academy laps up th­ese kinds of en­thu­si­as­tic love let­ters to the golden age of cin­ema, but it is the per­for­mances by the leads and their chem­istry that take this above and be­yond ‘Os­car bait’.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star in La La Land.

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