Written By Jacob Chimilar
It took me a while to figure out the film's rhythm, how often they would break into song and how much would be normal dialogue but once I did I was all in and by the end i was floored. It is such a unique and engaging experience. It sprinkles in the feeling of 50's musicals with bright, shiny, boy howdy performances that you might get from Singin' in The Rain with more modern tone and film techniques to elevate itself into its own art form. My mind was constantly becoming aware of all the layers on display at all times. It is far from tradition in terms of plot and its structure. While giving some pretty big hints to where things are going, getting there is really the best part. The dialogue is sparse but important, the dancing is varied and beautifully choreographed with excellent acting within that takes it up another notch.
The direction is spot on, the editing is wonderful, the cinematography is luscious with a vintage film tinge to it with some noticeable flaring and smearing that comes with the older film equipment of the day. It's not really distracting but instead evokes that old Hollywood feeling that I think Damien was trying to capture and was brought to life by DP Linus Sandgren.
The music by Justin Hurwitz is magnificent. It is its own character and so integral to the storytelling that not having it be perfect would have been a disservice to the whole film. Thankfully it is masterfully woven in to add the extra layer of depth that rarely comes into play with movies anymore even in musical such as these. It has a natural flow to it that fits in with the world and provides a piece of storytelling that is used so perfectly to emphasize the emotions in a scene.
The performances of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling and very Hollywood, as they should be. Great singing (more so from Stone than Gosling) wonderful dancing and great piano playing by Gosling. They both however can strip down to reality when it's required and they sell it so well. They really are the stars to help sell the whole experience. They can bring humor but also enough emotion to give me real chills on a few occasions. You believe their relationship and their abilities as dancers and singers because it is actually them doing the dancing, singing and piano playing.
The story is timeless and intricate in expressing its themes, using every aspect of film techniques to present this heightened reality you get to experience. That is just what this movie is, an experience. It's not something to switch your brain off and go along for the ride, as fun as those movies may be. It rewards you for your attention, details and symbolism ooze out of every note and enrich far beyond the surface. The story is engaging despite being somewhat cliche in being one of love and following your dreams.The people beside me said “it was 2 hours of complete nonsense.”, I can understand that for sure, there are some movies people adore for their symbolism that i just can't get into and maybe that'll be the case for you but if you can find the deeper meanings this film subtly and not so subtly portrays i think you will have a wonderful time. It's also worth watching in theatres just to heighten the "presentation" aspect. Big themes, sparkling showmanship and fun musical numbers are best viewed in an audacious fashion. Some people say run don't walk to see a movie but a more apt plead would be tap, tango or two step, its a treat for the eyes, ears and even the heart.