Directed by Damien Chazelle (GUY AND MADELINE ON A PARK BENCH, WHIPLASH), LA LA LAND is a love letter to Hollywood that has magically danced its way through viewers’ hearts. Starring Hollywood darlings Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, La La Land could do no wrong in our eyes. With many positive reviews and awards under its belt, does La La Land deserve the glamourous attention?
It is here in Los Angeles (also known as the City of Stars) where we meet our two protagonists — Mia, an inspiring actress who wants to make her Hollywood debut; and Seb, a musician who wants to share his love for jazz with the world. As their lives fatefully intertwine, they soon fall head over heels for one another in a whirlwind romance.
Taking viewers on a brilliant escapade away from reality, we are introduced to a side of LA that we have never seen before. Believe it or not, this LA town is far from the city of modern skyscrapers that we’re used to. With stunning views of downtown buildings, long-winding highways, and non-filtered sunsets, LA is mysteriously artsy in its own way. And as expected of a film that revolves around Hollywood, what better backdrop than Los Angeles itself?
Compared to other Oscar contenders such as Fences and Hacksaw Ridge, Chazelle’s La La Land isn’t on the same emotional level nor does it challenge the status quo. A narrative about people chasing their dreams in Hollywood? Sounds rather average. Yet, never before has it been so crucial for a film like La La Land to make its mark on the world.
Adorned with colourful vibrance, singing, dancing, and Hollywood gimmicks, La La Land is a jubilant spectacle that celebrates the musical genre in Hollywood. From the opening sequences to the Broadway Melody of 1940 and Singing in the Rain-inspired scenes, the choreography and cinematography in this film is absolutely breathtaking.
And of course, it wouldn’t be a musical without its fabulous compilation of scores by Justin Hurwitz. Featuring hit compositions such as ‘City of Stars‘ and ‘Another Day of Sun‘, Hurwitz’s compositions seamlessly goes in sync with Chazelle’s direction. And to wrap up everything, there is no greater couple to play the roles of Mia and Seb than Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. From Gosling’s charm to Emma’s infectious charisma, the chemistry between the frequent on-screen co-stars is difficult to ignore.
While it might be La La Land for Seb and Mia, the story surprisingly embarks on an unpredictable path that will turn the audience’s world upside down. As the story unfolds, the smokescreen nature of LA soon unravels in a heartbreaking manner. Dreams must come with sacrifices and decisions — should Seb and Mia become responsible adults and follow their heads? Or do they blindly follow their hearts? But can they really achieve their dreams whilst being in their own la la land?
Overall: La La Land pays homage to the fools who dare to dream. Every second of this melodramatic musical exudes energy, thrills and heart. From Chazelle’s magical vision to its relatable story to Gosling and Stone’s chemistry, La La Land is everything a musical should be. A film that sheds feelings of passion, euphoria, hope, and nostalgia, it is no wonder La La Land has captured many hearts. It might not be the most conventional film to secure Academy Awards’ Best Picture of the Year (2017) — but who can possibly ignore a love letter to Hollywood?