Musicals about chasing the harsh mistress of fame are nothing new, Fame perhaps the definitive version of the ‘be careful of what you wish for’ genre was released in 1980 but where that was a harsh slice of life with all of the glitz and glamour removed, if this gets any lighter its going to float away like a beautiful balloon.
The plots as classic as they come, an amazing Emma Stone is an aspiring actress who meets Ryan Gosling who dreams of opening his own jazz bar so he doesn’t have to play Jingle Bells on a piano any more. The film follows them as they try to achieve their dreams via hard work, luck and some pretty awesome dance routines.
Now the musical genre is pretty much dead as this point, the last big musical that i’m aware of (Les Miserables) back in 2012 and the last good musical was released back in 2007 (Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street) but this isn’t a good film, this is a great film.
At time of writing this film has been nominated for everything bar the Nobel Peace Prize and it’s probably going to win if not everything then at least most of the awards it;s currently up for. And the Nobel Peace Prize is over-rated anyway.
I mean I could rattle off facts like that its in IMDB’s top 25 films of all time, or that Ryan Golsing actually learned to play the piano for this role negating the use for CGI or hand doubles, or that the opening scene required over 100 dancers, or that Stone and Gosling both learned to dance for this film which includes several grueling one take numbers. I could claim that it was almost afflicted with Miles Teller before he went off to make War Dogs. And I could even tell you that this film took over a YEAR to edit.
But none of that matters.
Because this film, from its first moments won me over. If you stripped out the musical numbers, this would still be a good film but the numbers make it a great thing. The songs are woven into the narrative and feel natural, adding to the films narrative instead of making it stop for three minutes so that we can watch people strut their funky stuff.
The way it’s shot makes this feel like a lost movie from the ’30’s. But with smartphones, long steady takes allow us time to appreciate all of the effort that went into making this thing, and even though it’s a lighter film than Fame, it still does show just how heartless Hollywood can be.
Will this bring back the musical? Probably not. Will it succeed in what seems like its secondary mission and bring a new generation to jazz? I hope so.
Did I love this film and walk about smiling with my love of the magic and power of the silver screen reconfirmed?
Drop what you are doing, grab your family and go see this. Because this could be the last great and beautiful moment in the spotlight of a once all powerful and now sadly neglected genre.
My Score- See It Now