I was interested in seeing this film because not only am I a sucker fora good musical, but I'll admit to being a big fan of Ryan Gosling and Iwas intrigued to see what the director of Whiplash would do with amusical picture to make it fresh and unique. So when I had the chanceto see a late-planned viewing at the London Film Festival, I jumped atthe chance (FYI, Ryan Gosling came to the screening as a surprise post-film Q&A attendee despite not appearing at the Headline Gala the nightbefore so I was chuffed!)<br><br>The premise of the story is that Stone is a young actress who has movedto LA to wait tables while auditioning to try and 'make it', whileGosling is a jazz purist ("Anyone who doesn't like jazz just doesn'thave the right...context", he insists) who plays the piano in bars tomake a living and dreams of opening his own Jazz bar. Or to put itsuccinctly - "Two young artists meet and fall in love while chasingtheir dreams". The musical flows thematically from first love toheartbreak and every other emotion between, with great musicthroughout.<br><br>The most impressive thing about the film, for me, is just how daringlyit dances between the old-fashioned "Singing' In The Rain" style ofmusical, and a bolder, modern style. The song numbers are great (theopening number received a round of applause in my viewing) and are anundoubted homage to classic musicals - a thoughtful mixture of oldschool dance numbers you'd expect from a musical in the 50s, andemotionally-wrenching ballads that hit you where it hurts; there is oneparticular sequence toward the end of the film which is a realgut-punch. <br><br>Stylistically the film skirts this same line; the film again looks andacts like a classic musical but frequently we see low-key remindersthat this is modern day; actresses using their iPhones, a video beingseen on Youtube, etc to remind us that this is set in the present day.If we didn't have these reminders, the visuals would almost have youthinking that this is the 1950s. The cinematography is beautiful andoverall the film is visually stunning. There is also no doubt that itis wonderfully directed, with the same masterful control of pace andtension that we come to expect from Damien Chazelle thanks to Whiplash.<br><br>Gosling in particular is absolutely terrific, with a typically sardonicwit throughout. At the start of the film when his sister says she'sworried about him as life seems to have him on the ropes, he responds"I wanna be on the ropes. I'm just letting life think it has me andthen before you know it - BAM. It's a classic rope-a-dope". Hisdelivery of these sorts of lines can't be matched, and it's easy to seewhy the producers said in the post-film Q&A that he was the person theywanted for the role in their wildest dreams. It's a role made for himwith tons more of the above kind of lines. But more than that, Goslingcaptures a real emotional intensity at the film's emotional breakingpoints, more specifically in the sequence towards the end of the filmthat I mentioned earlier. He manages to convey such convincing emotionwithout so much as a word.<br><br>I'd feel bad if I didn't also praise Emma Stone, who has probably neverbeen better. She has wonderful emotional range, from the ecstatic highsof love to the tearful, painful lows. <br><br>In terms of the Gosling/Stone films, this is by far the best. Theirundoubted chemistry is given the full spotlight in this film withfreedom to explore said chemistry without restriction. <br><br>The film is ultimately everything it had the potential to be - anunashamedly romantic musical, infused not only with great song anddance numbers but with intense emotion and charisma from Gosling/Stone,wonderful visuals and a unique pacing and tension from Chazelle. Oh,and it's hilarious throughout too. A genuine achievement - must be oneof the best films I've seen in a long while. I'm annoyed I'll have towait so long to see it again, frankly.<br><br>Will surely win multiple Oscars and other awards.