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Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Damien Chazelle’s ‘La La Land’ Wow Venice

’La La Land’ draws warm applause at first press screening

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Damien Chazelle’s
Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

VENICE, Italy — Stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone  and director Damien Chazelle wowed the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday morning with “La La Land” — and it took just 10 minutes.

The enthusiastic reception at the first press screening and in early reviews is sure to fuel the buzz — which surfaced even before the movie world-premiered at Venice — that “La La Land” will be a serious Oscar contender in many departments.

Journalists — most of them Italian, but with a significant minority of international scribes — burst into spontaneous applause at the opening press screening after the musical’s first scene, a spectacular sustained single-shot song-and-dance number staged in a morning traffic jam on a Los Angeles freeway. Variety critic Owen Gleiberman, in his review, called it “one of the most extraordinary sequences in years…[with] a ‘gotta see’ factor that could help to turn ‘La La Land’ into a prestige novelty hit.”

Warm applause broke out at the end of the movie as well, a rare event at Venice, where even films by venerable auteurs can be booed.

As journalists and fest heads spilled out into the morning sun, on a beautiful day on the Lido, there was high praise for “La La Land” in advance of its gala premiere on the festival’s opening night Wednesday.

“‘La La Land’ makes your heart beater faster and gives you a smile, which very few festival movies do these days,” said Karlovy Vary artistic director Karel Och.

He added that the movie “is about Hollywood, the film industry and America,” and predicted a strongly positive reaction for the movie in the U.S.

“It was pure poetry. They are incredible actors and singers,” said Tiziana Mantovani, an Italian journalist.