Gosling, Stone spin modern twist on old Hollywood in 'La La Land'

By Piya Sinha-Roy

By Piya Sinha-Roy

TORONTO (Reuters) - While intense dramas and true life stories have dominated this year's Toronto International Film Festival, a vibrant love story inspired by the golden age of Hollywood musicals has found a warm welcome.

"La La Land," a musical contemporary tale of star-crossed lovers chasing their dreams in Hollywood and starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, received a standing ovation at its premiere Tuesday night.

"It's a great story and they're great engaging characters and the music kind of aids in that," Gosling, who plays a tortured jazz pianist, told Reuters on the red carpet. He added that he didn't think viewers had to like musicals to enjoy the film.

Stone, who plays an aspiring actress, said "I learned to tap and ballroom dance and sing live on camera, which was pretty insane."

"La La Land" is the second feature film from writer-director Damien Chazelle, 31. His first film "Whiplash," an intense study of a jazz drummer's quest to perfection, won three Oscars.

"I love the old Hollywood musicals, as you can see, but I really have a fondness for the French answers to those musicals," Chazelle told the audience and a short question-and-answer session after the screening.

"I wanted to do a musical, but really ground it in real life and invest it with stuff that felt messier and real," Chazelle said.

"La La Land" has already been drumming up awards buzz. Critics have praised the performances and the intricate, colorful, love letter to a bygone era of movies.

The film follows the two leads as their lives converge in poetic chaos while they try to make their respective dreams come true, even as they fall in love.

"Every character has to negotiate the balance between dreams and reality," Chazelle said. "These two will always be the perfect lovers to me."

(Editing by Alan Crosby)