Ryan Gosling ‘s talent saved this retro-musical for me. His deep chords and soft voice, his easy sway and final lament brought me near tears. This incredibly sad movie was more wrenching than bittersweet. Why can’t one have one’s dream and one’s love? Canadian, ex-Mouseketeer, Gosling and large-eyed Emma Stone seemed jinxed by time.
With a theme that has decision-making seen as narrowing one’s possibilities, the song ” City of Stars, Are You Shining Just For Me ” will have everyone feeling lonely, and have everyone wondering ” what if “. Director Damien Chazelle, whose film “Whiplash” was reviewed here January 4th, 2015, has another winner.
Mia ( Stone) and Sebastian first see each other in a freeway traffic jam. They are chasing all the light in another day of sun. She flips him the finger when he blares his horn, and they bump into each other at parties and in the coffee shop where Mia works as a barista. Their romance begins, and it is enthralling. That feeling of time standing still is captured in dance movements that swirl and soar.
Horn honker and finger thrower are in love. Struggles and support for their careers of actress/playwright and jazz pianist follow. The story arc is predictable, but so heartfelt that we invest again in first loves.
J.K. Simmons makes a cameo appearance as a grouchy piano bar manager who fires Sebastian ( Gosling ) for not sticking to his approved repertoire.When Sebastian spouts, ” That’s LA.~ worship everything, value nothing.” we get a premonition of heartbreak, conflict, and compromise.
Through jealousy and extensive touring, we see our lovers drift. The shadow dancing in swirls of clouds still lift our expectations. This love can make it. Lyrics like ‘ Here’s to the mess we make. Here’s to the ones who dream. Here’s to the hearts that ache, fools who leap”, we root for them. It is impossible for romantics to believe that timing is everything.
Fast forward five years. Mia’s mind-movie captures a longing that moving forward always leaves.
Sebastian’s plaintive, “One more dream that I can’t make come true” will stick with you, and so will Gosling.