La La Land
You walk into La La Land knowing it’s a musical and having preconceived notions of what that means for this love story. The curtains open and suddenly everyone on a stalled highway is out of their cars; singing and dancing around one another. The pale gray and boring tone of the stage for this opening number doesn’t matter; everyone is wearing bright t-shirts and throwing themselves around like fireworks. Then the music ends, everyone gets back into their cars and the camera that hasn’t stopped moving yet, it slowly moves down to reveal our main characters sitting in their cars. You may think you are witnessing a broadway play or a recording of one, but this is La La Land.
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a purist when it comes to Jazz. He lives and breathes the music and has dreams of opening his own Jazz club. Well, he nearly did, but he made a deal with the wrong type of guy. Now he’s doing crappy music job in hopes of raising the money. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress serving coffee during in the day and doing auditions in the afternoon. Unfortunately, she seems to have bad luck consistently in her auditions: people answer the phone, or people just walk in and interrupt. She aspires to be one of the greats. After more than one chance encounter, Mia and Sebastian eventually end up conversing upon meeting for the third time at a party where Mia mocks Sebastian who is playing in a cover band. Their romance begins. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone both give performances without which the magic of La La Land simply wouldn’t work. Giving some of their best performances and not only carrying the weight of the characters emotional drama throughout the movie but also performing the songs and choreography with absolute class.
The songs, choreography, and performances are all done so well that you wouldn’t be out of place to wonder if this was based on a classic broadway act you simply hadn’t heard of. The majority of the music pieces are performed in one long take and give you that feel of ye-old musical of the days gone. Most musical numbers had me left going: ‘hey, how did they shoot that?’ Every minute detail in La La Land is sculpted by writer and director Damian Chazelle and the team he has surrounded himself with. The costumes and the production design and are all amazing. Each shot is put together like a piece of artwork and it’s a stunning moving picture.
Apart from being a visual delight and featuring wonderful song and dance numbers, La La Land does also tell a seemingly conventional love story. Two people in Hollywood trying their best to make their dreams come true fall for one another, but have to juggle the personal life and career. Following your dreams and following your heart is a hard story to tell, but La La Land does it with class and magic.
Damien Chazelle has managed to put together a magical cinematic experience you simply won’t find on the big screen anymore. It’s a love story; it’s a love story to Hollywood; it’s a love letter to Jazz and America’s past. La La Land is a love story that explodes onto the screen and never ceases to let you look away.