Movie musicals appear, from afar, to be a thing of the past. While they were popular during the younger years of the baby boom era, audiences seem to have other tastes these days.
The 2016 movie, La La Land, is a modern movie musical set in Los Angeles. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) both have dreams that are not set in their reality. He is a pianist and she is an actress. As they have their meet cute, fall in love, and try to stay together, their careers start to come to fruition. At a certain point, they have to make a decision about their future and whether it is worth fighting for.
I’m not a huge fan of the genre. But I appreciate this film because the filmmakers did a good job of remaining in the present while honoring the classics. This is the third film that these two actors have made together (the other two are Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) and Gangster Squad (2013).
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Gosling and Stone have become one of those iconic movie couples whose on-screen chemistry works, regardless of genre or narratve. It is a sweet, romantic story that hits all of the right notes and has an ending that feels just right.
The most intriguing romances are forbidden. When we are told to that a person is forbidden, they become more attractive.
In The Notebook (2004), Allie (Gena Rowlands) is in a nursing home. Duke (James Garner) is reading her a story. In the late 1930’s, Allie (Rachel McAdams) is a young woman from a wealthy family. While on vacation, she meets Noah (Ryan Gosling), who works in the area. The attraction is immediate. But Allie’s parents will do anything to prevent the relationship, including hiding the letters that Noah wrote to Allie.
Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, this movie has become a new classic. I’m not normally a fan of Nicholas Sparks, his romances are normally too sweet for me. But this movie is enjoyable.
Six years earlier, Shakespeare In Love (1998) increased the class distance and the forbidden romance. Young Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is an actor, playwright and poet who is struggling. Like many writers, he struggles with writers block. Then he meets Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow). Viola loves the theater, but being a woman and a member of the upper classes, she knows that she cannot pursue her dream as herself. Only under the disguise of Thomas Kent can Viola live the dream. Will and Viola fall in love and begin to inspire what will become what we know now is his immortal works, but her fate has already been chosen for her.
This movie is, again enjoyable. When we watch an artist become in retrospect know what we know he or she will become, it’s always interesting to see their journey from dream to success.