If you watch movies to gain a realistic perception of the world, good.

If you seek an escape into a magical fantasy, great.

La La Land has both, in equal and precise measure.

Playing tribute to classical movie musicals of the 50’s including Singing in the Rain and the film noir Casablanca, it soars into territory that uplifts and chokes you at the same time.

Good news is you don’t even have to watch these movies to know there’s something markedly different about this movie musical compared to previous years such as Pitch Perfect and Hairspray.

Director Damien Chazelles’s style is an homage to the CinemaScope, more-pastel-colours-than-your-eye-shadow movies that are so bright and vivacious it’s a wonder no one turns blind in the City of Stars.

Side note: It is probably one of the most realistic descriptions one will see of LA traffic (no points to you, Fast and Furious).

In no way does this make the movie sickly sweet or excessive, instead showcasing the glow and gloss of LA while simultaneously highlighting the dark shadows, vignettes and all too familiar traps of those seeking fame and fortune.

Mia (Emma Stone) is one such girl who has left college and scholarly expectations to chase audition after audition, only to become accustomed to doors closing in her face. She stumbles into Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a struggling jazz musician who believes he can restore its crumbling image and one day open up his own bar.

Their chemistry is palpable and the singing and dancing that accompanies feels organic and not at all contrived in a modern musical. “A Lovely Night”  and “Someone in the Crowd” is almost guaranteed to be hummed during your lunch break. Something especially notable is Gosling’s pianist skills (so impressive indeed, that fellow cast member John Legend was quite jealous).

Before you dismiss this as an inevitable star-crossed lovers story, prepare yourself for the grit and disenchanting arcs that plague the story. The very passion that binds them together could ulimately set them apart. LA plays host to beautiful, mountainous scenery but it is also a dry terrain that shines and burns.

Truly a City of Stars.

Verdict: 9/10

Entertainment One Films.