Director Damien Chazelle burst on the scene in 2014 with Whiplash, the drama that applied the rough mentor/driven protege formula to an elite musical conservatory. The film was the toast of Sundance that year and earned five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, and a win for Best Supporting Actor for J.K. Simmons. Among other things, Whiplash marked cinema’s first major use of Simmons’ muscles – but certainly not the last one.
For his follow-up to Whiplash, Chazelle is tackling the music world once again with La La Land, a musical romantic comedy starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Simmons. In the film, Gosling plays a jazz musician, romancing a waitress (Stone). Now we have our first look at this film, which arrives later this year.
The first teaser trailer for La La Land arrived Thursday, on People magazine’s website, and in the 90-second clip we see beautiful style, hear pretty music, and get the sense that there’s trouble to come for the characters. You can check out cover art for the film, below.
The La La Land teaser is set entirely to Gosling singing an original song titled City of Stars and playing piano, as we see highlights of his courtship with Stone and various other Los Angeles cityscapes. Amid the romance, we also see Gosling falling or jumping from a balcony into a pool, the two dancing on what appears to be a planetarium dome. There’s also a quick glimpse of John Legend, in a recording studio with Gosling.
Based on the teaser, this movie looks very, very good. Whiplash, while an aesthetically pleasing film, was set almost entirely in small music classrooms; La La Land appears to really open up Los Angeles and give us lots of amazing visuals, even aside from the two great-looking lead actors. Gosling and Stone have been great together on screen before – they were one of the better parts of the otherwise flawed Crazy Stupid Love. And the last time a movie and its trailer featured Gosling singing, it was Blue Valentine, one of the more critically-acclaimed films the actor has appeared in.
Then again, Gosling and Stone’s other cinematic teaming to date, Gangster Squad, was generally not well-received and regarded as quite forgettable. But every element appears to be in place for La La Land to go down as one of the better films arriving in late 2016.
La La Land will play on the opening night of the Venice Film festival August 31, and will arrive in U.S. theaters in limited release on December 2nd, 2016, before going into wide release on December 16th.