Damien Chazelle‘s new musical La La Land will open the Venice Film Festival this evening, yet the first wave of reactions are already starting to arrive. And those reactions seem, so far, uniformly positive, for the director’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning 2014 breakout Whiplash. In the film, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone portray struggling artists trying to make it work in the City of Angels – an extension of that comes out in song.
Chazelle also penned the screenplay for La La Land. Outside of the star-packed combo of Gosling and Stone (who previously worked together on Gangster Squad and Crazy Stupid Love), the supporting cast includes Whiplash Oscar winner J.K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock (The Big Short), Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married) and Oscar winner John Legend.
In his review over at The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy wrote, “Aside from wondering how the filmmakers managed the logistics of pulling off such an audacious location shoot, lovers of classic musicals will be swept away by this utterly unexpected and original third feature from Damien Chazelle.” Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman commented in his review “Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, which opens the Venice Film Festival on a voluptuous high note of retro glamour and style, is the most audacious big-screen musical in a long time, and — irony of ironies — that’s because it’s the most traditional.” Alonso Duralde of The Wrap wrote, “Fans of musicals will adore this sparkling cinematic love letter, and if others are slow to embrace it, Chazelle’s screenplay sees them coming.”
LA LA LAND (A-) So precious it’s *actually* precious: LA valentine via Cherbourg and New York, New York. Iridescent design, tinderbox stars.
— Guy Lodge (@GuyLodge) August 31, 2016
Damien Chazelle’s LA musical La La Land is wonderfully sweet, sad, smart – and Emma Stone has never been better #Venezia73
— Peter Bradshaw (@PeterBradshaw1) August 31, 2016
Before Lionsgate opens the film theatrically on December 2nd, La La Land will play the upcoming Toronto Film Festival and, likely, the Telluride Film Festival, which arrives even sooner. The question that arises now is if the film can sustain its early buzz and not only make a strike for box office gold but perhaps a singing awards run. It’s too soon to tell on that front as of yet.