In Los Angeles, Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) are struggling to fulfil their dreams. She is a barista but wants to be an actress and he is a talented jazz musician who can only seem to get crummy gigs playing Christmas songs. She loves Hollywood’s Golden Age with your Casablancas and Scarlett O’Haras but hates the cattle herding that seems to occur in all her auditions. Sebastian is a jazz pianist, a musician that has more in common with the likes of Charlie Parker and Thenlonious Monk than any musician in the 21st century. He’s trying to preserve the old traditions of a dying genre.
Mostly due to their struggles as artists and daily scenarios, their initial meetings are aggressive ones, to put it nicely. Eventually, they are drawn to each other on the basis of each other’s passions. Like all lives, there are struggles and those struggles are amplified because they are artists (typical). Their pursuit of their ambitions and dreams take all their effort, with no time to work on their relationship. Any time they try to compromise in working on themselves, it changes the said person in the eyes of the other.
With 10 Cloverfield Lane and Whiplash already under his belt, La La Land writer and direct Damien Chazelle is a hot topic in Hollywood of late, especially with his movie’s recent fourteen nominations from the Academy. Having watched the movie twice already, La La Land is akin to being in a trance. I was hypnotized from start to finish. It’s the perfect hybrid of tradition and forward-thinking. We see throwbacks to movies released between the 1930s and 1960s such as great gems like Mary Poppins, Casablanca and Singing In The Rain. La La Land is one of the best made musicals since the golden age, and certainly for me, it’s a sight for sore eyes.
The posters and the trailers don’t do this film justice. It’s arthouse through and through. We are witness to a love story that depicts the trials and tribulations of every day life. As I said before, the throwbacks to the glory days are everywhere. The only way this film could be improved is if it was filmed in Technicolor, only then would I expect to see Vivien Leigh strutting down the boulevard turning all numbers of heads. I just wish more Hollywood movies could throw me back into my golden age thinking, as this one did. I guess that’s the traditionalist in me speaking. Even down to the posters, those old school movies cannot be matched.
La La Land is one of the best cinematic experiences since the release of Lord Of The Rings. I feel this is going to be a future classic for today’s generation of cinemagoers. This is musical escapism done to the point of perfection. You feel at home away from home. The opening sequence on the highway really left me gawping and that was only the beginning of this film’s wit, charisma, charm and style. It’s fantastical and bold with its own identity. Films like this don’t come around everyday.
La La Land dances between past and present, in terms of what it pays homage to. It’s a blend of musicals like Singing In The Rain and Mary Poppins but also dramas like Casablanca. These old style movies blend the modern style of musical style. This was a big risk and I’m glad they made it, especially with the musical numbers incorporated with well-choreographed dance numbers that were in abundance in the 1950s. La La Land filled me up with the hope that there are still those in Hollywood who are fans of original storytelling.
Critics and audiences alike have been raving about this movie, with good reason too. It’s a freaking masterpiece and I don’t use that word lightly. From the excellent acting performances from Stone (The Help) and Gosling (The Big Short) to cinematography, narrative and its addictive soundtrack, La La Land is one to watch for every musical fan out there.