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La La Land review: A musical to make you swoon

By Damon Smith

Aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) works as a barista in between auditions, which repeatedly end in crushing rejection. On a traffic-jammed Los Angeles freeway, she crosses paths with talented pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who reveres jazz in its purest form, but is forced to play saccharine standards by restaurant owner Bill (JK Simmons).

After the pair share their dreams of fame, Sebastian is convinced he can spearhead a new appreciation for music until an old classmate, Keith (John Legend), questions his devotion to masters of a bygone era.

While Mia prepares to stage her semi-autobiographical one-woman show, So Long, Boulder City, Sebastian agrees to play keyboard in Keith's soulless, chart-friendly band, The Messengers.

La La Land is a perfect marriage of directorial brio, tour-de-force performances and jaw-dropping production design.

Gosling and Stone are individually luminous and electrifying as a double-act in high energy song and dance sequences.

Five stars

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