Writer/Director Damien Chazelle, who already had a nice career going for him, explodes into the Bigtime with this delightful, mesmerizing, and completely unexpected ode to Tinseltown.
The opening sequence (satirized on the Golden Globes) really does not do the rest of the film justice. It is as if the cast from the FAME remake grew up, had children of their own, and then those children hijacked the Santa Monica freeway to do a 10 minute flash-mob dance sequence.
From that point on, the film is hypnotic.
We segue to a love story as pure as anything since the great dramas of the 1940s. If the film had been in B&W, you would almost have expected to see Bette Davis in a 3-hankie tear jerker.
Except for the musical interludes, of course, which are pitch perfect and totally wonderful.
Gosling is surprising as a leading man expected to do song and dance, but he delivers the goods.
Stone, who was supposed to be "the next big thing" after Easy A (2010), steals the film and possibly the hearts of the audience as well. The awards should flow like water, and she will deserve every one.
As I said, deep in the DNA this is an ode to Hollywood. The film industry has always had issues with endings -- back in the day they would film several different endings per picture -- and then decide at the last minute which to use. Here Chazelle pays homage to that by giving us an alternate ending, along with the "real" ending, along with a closing sequence designed to remind everyone that nothing in Hollywood is actually real, but everything still can be really fun.
Destined to be a classic. Recommended.