I am saying this to bring some context to the feelings I have for this film. I hate love stories. I have been in some of them, so I find watching them on the big screen just silly. I hate musicals. It takes me out of the movie and I am really unable to connect. That said, I totally loved this movie because I was engrossed and intrigued after seeing the trailer. It has Whiplash director Damian Chazelle who has also written the screenplay and of course it has two of the most beautiful people in Hollywood, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Just before I begin this review, let me just warn you peeps. I am going to go full retard on this one because I frigging loved this movie.
The thing that tugged me in, to watch this movie, was the fact that the director was aware of the kind of movie he is making. The music didn’t get in the way of the narrative and he used it to shape the characters. The music didn’t bring the movie to a halt. Right from the opening sequence, I knew that it was going to be a really fantastical yet realistic movie. The song sequences were evenly spaced so that you wouldn’t feel, you know, gasping for breath. It was used in a manner that you can easily say that the song sequences are just playing in their heads. I can tell that because I often sit in a restaurant and imagine myself dancing on the tables. Maybe, I am mad but as soon as the order arrives I am back in the real world. The usage of the songs is somewhat similar. It isn’t always there and the songs begin when the characters are musing about something. It felt like I was being guided into the fantastical aspect of the movie and back again. The thing which Hindi movies can never do. There is no merger between reality and fantasy. It just happens and then ends and you are left with the question that why did it even happen. So if Bollywood wants to continue with the dance numbers, they should watch this movie at least a 1000 times.
I think the music was really amazing. It blended in really well. The theme of Mia(Emma) and Sebastian(Ryan) was beautiful. So, my standing/sitting ovation to the people who were involved with the music of the movie.
The story was really very simplistic. Sebastian is a struggling Jazz pianist and Mia is a struggling actress. After a few chance meetings, they fall in love and then their individual lives come into the mix, leading to the usual problems and a fairly realistic ending. Now, that’s where Chazelle waves his magic wand and turns a simple story into a music filled painting of sorts. There were subtle details which he used to distinguish the two central characters. Mia’s Prius, Sebastian’s car-horn. Both of their homes had a distinctive taste, so that the audience knows where we are in the movie. The dialogue was more grounded in reality unlike the musical numbers. To be honest, I was expecting the conversations to be all dreamy and poetic and I was surprised to see how real it felt when any two characters interacted with each other.
Like I was saying before, the transition from reality to a fictional music number was very fluid and back again. The camera work in those sequences was at par with the pace of the music. The light and colours determined the mood of the scene. I don’t know if you noticed but when Mia and Seb’s relationship starts to go through a turmoil, the use of colour completely changes. The rooms are lit with dull, greyish or greyish-blue colours and when they start to get kinda back together, the colour starts to come back again.It almost felt like I was watching a play, even though I have never watched a play. The use of lights didn’t only give the feel of watching a play, but it was used to enhance the emotions of the character. I suppose every creative person feels this way when they perform. As soon as a performer starts to lose himself/herself in their act, the audience fades away and it almost feels like a trance. I have been on the stage a few times and I had that feeling, so I did relate with that and I don’t think that feeling could have been portrayed any better than it was done in this movie.
I have just one little, tiny gripe about the story is the way Mia’s boyfriend was handled. It felt very abrupt, considering how every other character was handled. Even though it doesn’t bring down the whole movie, but it kinda pricked me. That’s all.
If you think I am using and re-using adjectives, it’s because I am at a loss of words, really.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone made this gem of a movie, even more perfect. Every emotion, every movement, every tap of the shoe in a dance number just enhanced the work of Damian Chazelle, while also showcasing their love for the craft. Emma Stone looks stunning and graceful in those one-piece dresses and even in pyjamas. I loved Gosling’s habit of putting his hand in his pocket and damn! was he looking fine in those suits. J.K. Simmons had a nice cameo. I was really expecting it to be Terrence Fletcher. I know there were a shit-ton of small characters and even though I can’t mention all of them so, damn good job by all of them because all of them chipped in really well.
All in all, it was a complete movie and a complete story. It began in one Winter and ended in another. A full circle. The last sequence was just spectacular. I don’t know if there are words that can be used to explain that last sequence. It can only be felt. The feeling of what could have been. It served as the guidance to bring us or you or me to come back to reality because real endings are usually like that.
FINAL VERDICT – I was keeping this review for today. I don’t know why. I just felt like it. I am not a fan of romance but I just felt like it. I don’t know.
I am sure every one has already seen this movie. Those who are fans of romance and musicals I am sure it was a treat for you all but this final verdict is for those who are not all of that. Those who are scared that it is one of those Oscar-bait movies or cliched. Well, I am not going to lie to you. It is all of that but it is a good one. If you remember listening to stories when you were small and being transcended into that world, this movie will bring back that feeling and for that reason only I’ll highly recommend you to watch this movie. Keep it in your collection because movies like this don’t come very often.
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