Summary: A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
Cast and Characters. There are many characters we come into contact with in the film but it’s mostly Mia and Sebastian’s story so I’m only going to mention them, at least by name and give my thoughts on them.
Emma Stone as Mia. I love Emma Stone and I really loved her character. She works as a barista on a studio lot. She wants to be an actress but has a hard time getting roles and it does start to take an emotional toll on her. She meets Sebastian in a restaurant after hearing him play and is mesmerized. After that, the story continues and they have this great relationship and Mia is supportive of Sebastian. She doesn’t like the music he plays but after spending time with him and his passion, it grows on her and she’s so in tune with Sebastian than she can tell when he’s not doing something he wants to actually do. I loved that about her. That she tried to be supportive in all that he did while also wanting him to stick with his passionate plan. I also loved that it showed how her failing in auditions affected her emotionally and self consciously. I think Emma Stone was a great casting choice, she is so likable in this role (as she always is really). She played this role with passion, stability and such emotion. When Mia feels down and out, I almost cried a couple of times because Emma is so tremendous. Plus, her scene at the end where she sings her song… oh yeah.
Ryan Gosling as Sebastian. He’s almost unlikable but they don’t cross that line with him, it could definitely happen but personally it doesn’t tip over. Sebastian comes off a bit cynical, he loves Jazz music and wants to bring it back, but he’s very much a traditionalist in that genre. Seeing his rude attitude towards people was pretty funny, but you also understand him in a way. He’s so passionate about Jazz that when Mia tells him she doesn’t like it, his reaction to it, it’s so great. His character has an interesting arc as well. I can’t spoil anything though sorry. Ryan Gosling was great in this role, he’s very charismatic that I think if he was played by someone else, it might have been easier to hate him. His pain, his love for Mia, his passion for Jazz, his wariness of certain choices that are presented to him… it’s all so interesting.
The Music. I need this soundtrack. The moments outside of words actually being sung, it’s so beautiful, dreamy, emotional and sometimes a bit sad. There are two version of “City of Stars”, the first time we hear it, both Ryan and Emma sing it and it’s really cute and the second time… wow. I don’t doubt that someone will be singing the lyrics but the score by Justin Hurwitz (who also did Whiplash) is so amazing! Just to say, I don’t know how much Ryan Gosling played the piano but that piano playing was amazing! Whoever did that! WOW!
Singing/Dancing. This is a musical, however, it’s not completely always singing and dancing. The opening scene is a musical scene, but then there are three or four songs that are actual sung in the film. There are times where a character may kind of sing a word in dialogue but it’s not constant. But when it’s there, they’re moments the characters share together, whether it’s getting ready for a party, or a tender moment at a piano. I knew Emma Stone had some type of voice due to her being in a musical somewhere, or something, but I was pleasantly surprised by her here. She has a song towards the end of the movie, and I don’t know if it was sung live but her acting while singing through that song… wow. I thought it was nice. Not strong but I didn’t think it had to be for her part. Ryan Gosling also has a nice voice, again, not strong but “folky” I guess. He really only sings “City of Stars” and it’s definitely nice.
The dancing is also cute and fun to watch. The first scene has some great dancing. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling do really well, I don’t know if they have any dancing backgrounds but what they do looked nice. We really only see them dance twice, and the first time is probably the real “musical like” dance scene, tap dancing etc. So cute. Good job.
The Cinematography. Oh my goodness, the way this film looks is so beautiful. Linus Sandgren (Joy, American Hustle) did the cinematography and it’s so beautiful. The way it looks is so crisp, the colors aren’t washed out, and it almost has this old feel to it that makes it seem like the movie is set in the 1970s or something but it’s a current film. It has this dreamy look to it.
The Relationship between Sebastian and Mia. THEY HAVE GREAT CHEMISTRY ARGH!!!It starts off interesting because, they first see each other in traffic but obviously you don’t really remember someone from an encounter on the highway unless you are an elephant. But as we see them grow and progress, it’s sweet and they’re so easy to root for and you want them to succeed together, with their dreams, it’s just so great. In terms of their interactions with each other, I thought it was very realistic in terms of how it progressed and their arguments with each other, their love for each other. I think it was nice to see.
The Costumes. Mary Zophres (Interstellar, Fargo) does the costumes and I loved all of Mia’s clothes. Everything she wore was beautiful. Stand outs have to be the black dress she wears at the end and the yellow dress shown on the usual banners for the film. The clothes at times, look old so you can’t necessarily pinpoint the time period but it works because you don’t really need to know the time period. Everything Mia wears is pretty colorful whereas Sebastian kind of sticks to a few colors and he usually wears suit like clothing.
The Opening Scene. Right off the bat, you know what kind of film this is going to be because of that opening scene. It makes you smile, my friend leaned over and said “I want to be in this movie” in which I agreed. It was cute, awesome and it helps set the tone for the film.
The Humor. The movie isn’t like hilarious the entire way through. It’s funny but it’s not funny like it’s trying to be funny, more like there are funny things people say. Emma Stone is naturally funny which helps her character as she more light hearted than Sebastian is, whereas Ryan Gosling is a bit more on the serious side and when his characters does funny things (such as honk the car horn for a long period of time, or jump every time someone “scares” him) and his reactions to things are funny, or the way he talks about things are funny. Together, they are a great couple lol.
Loose Ends. There are a couple of things brought up that are never mentioned again or followed through with. At least not noticeably. Seb’s sister in the beginning mentions two people, 1) some girl she wants Sebastian to meet, who doesn’t like jazz which later hints that it could be Mia she was talking about, but we never really see anything that indicates that. There’s a scene where Mia and Seb are with the sister, there’s no dialogue but Mia and Laura don’t necessarily seem familiar with each other. OR Laura also mentions some guy who did Seb dirty, that indicates another character we meet and outside of a line here or there, it’s never really addressed. Maybe that’s just me but I kind of wish there was confirmation.
The ending. This isn’t a hit against the movie at all, it’s a personal thing. I was so UPSET! But it’s still beautiful and bittersweet.
Overall, I really loved this film. I wanted to see it from the jump but I am so glad I watched it. It’s a movie I think that after many watches, gets better over time as well as holding up. It has this feel to it that makes you think it could be set in earlier times but it also feels current. Mia and Sebastian are well written characters, with great chemistry (especially thanks to the actors). The musical score is glorious and the singing and dancing is incorporated so well that I don’t think it would be annoying, unless you just don’t like singing and dancing in films. Go see this one. It’s worth it.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I actually knocked the score down a bit after thinking of a con that bothered me throughout the film, but upon deliberation, I decided that this film is still ultimately perfect so boom (I mean ya know, way more good than bad lol)! Perfect score lol.
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