La La Land Review: A Dazzling Trip Down Memory Lane
Musicals have become a dying genre in modern film. Studios have not been releasing as many musicals as they used to. They have lost faith in their ability to bring them big box office numbers. This film shows why musicals deserve to have more investment from studios.
La La Land is a new musical from director Damien Chazelle, also famous for Whiplash. The story focuses on two artists who are trying to make it big in present day Hollywood. Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist who dreams of opening his own club, both deal with the ups and downs of working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. Through chance encounters, Mia and Sebastain slowly start to fall in love.
Both Gosling and Stone deliver award-worthy performances. Stone is someone who is so passionate about her acting, yet is having doubts after being denied by many auditions. Stone not only gives great emotion throughout the movie, but she also proves that she can handle all of the musical numbers within the film.
Gosling plays a character who loves jazz and wants to bring a comeback of classic jazz. He does a great job at convincing the audience that his character is incredibly passionate about his art. He also is good as the comic relief throughout the movie and does a great job in the musical sequences. Stone and Gosling both have great chemistry in the movie. This is their third movie where they play the romantic interests of one another and they work off one another very well. John Legend also makes a cameo in the movie and while he does not say much he has a fantastic song in the film.
While Gosling and Stone are the main characters, the star of the movie has to be Chazelle's directing. This is the best directed movie I've seen in 2016. Every shot in this movie is beautiful. The opening sequence in this film is absolutely breathtaking. It shows a musical number that breaks out in the middle of a traffic jam on the highways of Los Angeles. However, the scene is one long tracking shot and makes it appear as though the scene was done with one long take. Another technique that Chazelle did that was great was what he did with the lighting. Anytime Chazelle wants the audience to focus on a certain character, he dims the lights around the character so that only they can be seen. The technique may be a little overused but it does add a lot to the film.
Another great thing about La La Land is they way that the film feels as though it was made in the 50's but it remains in present day. The film has elements that are only found in present day but a lot of the musical sequences are reminiscent of scenes that could be found in classic musicals such as Singin in the Rain. This can be attributed to the music in the film.
Justin Hurwitz composed the music for La La Land and it is beautiful. There are certain sequences in this film where there is no dialogue for a while but the music is so captivating that you would rather listen to the music alone than hear the characters talk. However, a problem with this is that the musical score is much better than the actual songs. The songs in this movie are good, but not great. I did not find myself really remembering any specific songs that got my attention. The best song is probably "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" but I've heard much better in other musicals.
One problem I had with this film is that some of the sequences go on for a little bit too long. There is a scene in a planetarium and a montage segment towards the end that both go on for a while. They are still entertaining but they got a little repetitive. Towards the end of the movie, I thought the movie was over like ten times but it still kept going. However, both of the problems I had with this movie are very minor and really did not impact the overall experience I had with this movie.
La La Land is a truly great musical that also serves as a nice love letter to Hollywood and the dreams that can come true but also the heartbreak that can come with it. It is an expertly directed film with a truly memorable score and two stand out performances. It serves tribute to all of those who have experienced the struggles and the successes of the city of angels.