La La Land is a musical romance set in modern day Los Angeles. The film follows Mia and Sebastian, Mia dreams of being an actress while Sebastian wishes to open his own Jazz club, and through a series of coincidences these two come together and help each other pursue these goals. This a uplifting film about chasing your dreams, it has a joyous tone and is a fun musical experience. It has a similar feel to the old musicals of the 50s, like Singing in the Rain and Guys and Dolls, and definitely pays homage to that era and style. I feel like if you have experienced LA you will get a little extra out of this as the city is brought to life; I have never seen LA but I was still drawn into the setting due to the dreamlike quality the film displays. Having seen this film after it won all those Golden Globes I had to put that out of my head, as I didn’t want to have overly high expectations, and while I will say I don’t know if it deserved the record breaking amount of awards it got, It was a very enjoyable film that I had a great time with. La La Land is directed by Damien Chazelle, director of Whiplash, and stars Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and John Legend.
The thing I liked most about La La land is that it feels very human. It’s a small and personal story about two people that feel real. Neither Gosling nor Stone are technically amazing singers, but the way they sing the songs feels very personal and intimate, they sound like ordinary people singing not trained professional singers. Both characters are very relatable. They have dreams and insecurities and are likeable in their normality. Gosling and Stone are both very subtle in their performances, they aren’t over the top or Hollywoodised portrayals of normal people. I felt especially connected to Emma Stone as Mia, as she was the more vulnerable of the two but also very joyous, and she seemed to grow and change the most. I also felt more connected to her ambitions on a personal level. However, that’s not to say that Ryan Gosling as Sebastian wasn’t also very relatable. He is confident and determined and an optimist that misses the old days of Jazz. I believe that everyone would relate to one of these two. Their chemistry was fine, not the best on screen pair but I believed that they would be together.
As this is a musical, one of the most important parts is obviously the music. The film features a fully original Score that is a ton of fun. It’s filled with catchy songs that are in the style of those older films I previously mentioned. There is also a lot of Jazz influence in the music which I personally loved. I am listening to the soundtrack while writing this! There is also some really fun and well done choreography that again follows the olden style, being full of swing and tap. Gosling and Stone’s dancing was especially enjoyable and well done. The song ‘Someone in a Crowd’ encapsulated the top notch quality of the music and dancing for me. It was just nice to see a film in 2017 be made in this style but not be a remake of something.
The direction feels very playful in ways I don’t really know how to describe. Chazelle really has fun with the way he tells the story. He uses bright and colourful cinematography to make LA seem like a place of fantasy and dreams. It adds to the joyous tone of the film. I will say that the film did feel a bit unnecessarily long at times, so a little bit of trimming would have made the film more concise. What turned this film from good to great in my mind was its ending, and I don’t just mean the final scene but the overall ending. I thought it was a beautiful ending that made the film feel more original and left me thinking about it long after it finished.
I really enjoyed La La Land, while it isn’t my favourite film of the past year or anything along those lines, it is still really good fun with a brilliant soundtrack and sympathetic characters. I would definitely recommend seeing this.
P.S. It’s such a shame that in the UK we don’t get these films till January. Hacksaw Ridge is the next film I’m waiting to see and that came out ages ago in the states. I wish we could get them at the same time.