La La Land is a romance-musical directed by Damien Chazelle, the director of Whiplash (2014). Once again, Chazelle proves to be the master of setting a film’s tone mainly through one of the most important filmic elements: music. La La Land combines sound and image in a way that transports you to another world. It’s beautiful to look at from beginning to end but it’s also very amusing.

The film tells a love story of an aspiring actress, Mia and a jazz pianist (played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling), both struggling to achieve their Hollywood dreams. I love this film simply for the idea that so many of us will watch it and feel inspired by these characters’ passions and be reminded of a time when we had dreams of who and what we wanted to become.

The film’s aesthetic is bold and mesmerizing down to the purple trash bins lining the LA apartments. The use of colour is playful and mesmerizing according to the tone of a certain scene or time in the narrative. The plot structure is broken down into seasons and each time the season changes, so does the colour of Mia’s (Emma Stone) outfits. If you’re like me, you’ll be entertained simply by trying to predict what colour will be worn next according to the direction in which the story moves.

Everything about this film encourages you to be transported to another world, a dreamlike fantasy that is exciting, heartwrenching, nostalgic and reminiscent of classic Hollywood. It acts as a tribute to anyone who’s ever dreamed of making their mark on the world of art. And especially, anyone with an old soul pertaining to film and music and any other classic art forms that seem to be fading away. With countless references to films and artists of Hollywood’s Golden age like Singin’ in the Rain, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Funny Face, Rebel Without a Cause, the musicals of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and even Disney’s Sleeping Beauty’s ‘Once Upon a Dream’ dance sequence. This film screams Hollywood and does not try and deny the fact that in this world, it’s all about fantasy and bringing dreams to life on the screen, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable.

Unlike any romance-musical I’ve ever seen, La La Land incorporates all of the necessary traits of a classic musical, including the cheese-factor. However, there are elements to this film that set it apart from the others. It’s unbelievably charming, fun and also has it’s fair share of comedic moments. The overall feelings that I established from the film, at least for me, is unlike that of any other musical or film I’ve seen.

I was a bit worried about how Stone and Gosling’s performances would be pertaining to song and dance, but I was very impressed with the result. They are both more talented than I had realized and what’s more is that their chemistry is amazing. They’ve done films together in the past as lovers like in Crazy Stupid Love (2011) and Gangster Squad (2013) which is why I wasn’t at all surprised by their romantic chemistry in this film.

The narrative explores this anxiety and fear that Hollywood is dying and that certain art is losing its value, but La La Land it self, helps to reinforce the idea that art isn’t going anywhere and that by mixing old and new art, you can create a wonderful hybrid of the two in order to keep it alive and thriving forever. Art forms continue to develop and change drastically over time, but every once in a while we are able to return to the beginning of a certain era and bring new life to it. This film is both a tribute to classic Hollywood, as well as an innovative and progressive filmic masterpiece.

Chazelle, a lover of music and a talented musician himself continues to use his passion and his past as inspiration in order to provide his audience with a very special cinematic and musical experience. His passion for the art world reverberates through his work and into the hearts of his audience. Whether they share the same passions or not, there is a certain quality to Chazelle’s films that anyone can relate to or appreciate on some level.

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5 thoughts on “‘La La Land’ (Damien Chazelle, 2016)

  1. Love your review!
    La La Land was such a beautiful film, and I’m glad the ending went the way it did. By doing that, it stands apart from the typical musicals where everything works out how the audience wants and expects.
    I was pleasantly surprised by Stone and Gosling’s singing too. I knew Gosling did some indie rock kind of thing for a short while, but he surpassed my expectations for this performance.
    It looks like it will scoop up the awards at the Oscars, but I think the focus, as it is every year, will be a negative slant- whitewashing, a film about Hollywood, blah blah. It is great film, and if it wins, so be it! 🙂

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  2. I loved this movie! And I’m glad they didn’t go for the cliche ending too, but they showed what might have been in a perfect world. There were a few references to Casablanca in there… particularly at the end when she walks into his club and I could just hear him thinking “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”. And as he’s sitting there at the piano I was just thinking “play it Sam”. Also some of the auditioning scenes just reminded me of Tootsie. The movies that have a lot of Hollywood nostalgia always seem to do well at the Oscar’s.

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  3. Thanks for the review–I don’t usually enjoy musicals because I just want the characters to stop singing and get on with the story so I can find out what happens already!!! But your reel view makes me want to watch it!

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  4. It’s interesting, b/c I didn’t see La La Land, but my friends who did criticized it for essentially being a “Hollywood-patting-itself-on-the-back” kind of thing. Did you think that they should’ve one Best Picture over Moonlight?

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