Damien Chazelle”s got a lot of eyes on him as he prepares his follow-up to Whiplash for release, and based on today”s first trailer for La La Land, he”s got precious little to worry about. When you cast Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as young pretty people falling in love, you”re already halfway done with your work, but when you add in the surreal and beautiful take on Los Angeles, a city that is plenty surreal and beautiful on its own, you might end up with something really special.
I started laughing today when I saw some dude on Twitter dismiss this because he thought it looked too much like Woody Allen”s Everyone Says I Love You. Hi, random dude. Please see more movies. Musicals have always been one of the most expressionistic forms of mainstream film, with song and dance standing in for emotion and all the things we cannot say in words. Musicals have typically been set in fantasy versions of the real world. It was only after the genre had thrived for decades that they started introducing post-modern spins on the idea, and it”s probably hard to imagine how strange it felt to see something like West Side Story for the first time, set on so many actual New York locations or, more dramatically, the work of Dennis Potter for English television. Pennies From Heaven and The Singing Detective were radical when they were made, and they challenged the notion of the sunny fantasy of musicals.
Which is all my way of saying, no, Woody Allen did not invent the idea of dancing on air.
I have no idea what Chazelle”s up to here. Is he making a straightforward and traditional musical? Is he looking to place his own meta-spin on the form? Whatever the case, the trailer is just ravishing. Linus Sandgren”s photography is front and center here, and the way he and Chazelle have captured the Los Angeles I know, but wrapped it in a candy-colored dream, makes it feel like this is going to be a beautiful overall experience. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling generated a terrific amount of chemistry together in Crazy Stupid Love, and it looks like the same thing is true here. If the entire movie is as swoony and romantic as this short clip, no one will be safe. They”re both so charismatic and adorable, and I hope the film delivers on the promise of this truly stunning first peek.
La La Land is in theaters December 16, 2016.