Film Friday: La La Land

So with the Oscars coming up this coming Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to do this Film Friday on the movie that's been getting so much buzz and the most nominations since Titanic and All About Eve (14 in fact): La La Land! I know, I know, La La Land has been getting so much attention lately that it's kind of overwhelimg to hear about it anymore. However, I truly did enjoy the film! It was one of my favorite movies of 2016 and I also believe it to be the big winner Sunday night, whether some people may like it or not. So without further ado, I give you La La Land!

La La Land tells the fictional story of a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles.

What most people know about La La Land is that the film is a musical, an original one at that which is pretty hard to find in film nowadays. So before I get to talking about the performances and the different aspects of the film such as the music and the visual style, I want to discuss what I believe to be the central theme of the film. You probably guessed it, chasing dreams! The tagline for the film is even “Here's to the ones who dream”, which is a line from one of the songs Emma Stone sings.

Underneath the love story, underneath the musical, is essentially a film that is telling people to go out there and do what they love, which I in turn found really inspiring. Though both Ryan's Gosling's character Sebastian and Emma Stone's Mia go through their respective setbacks, especially in such difficult fields to be successful in such as music and acting, both continue to go after their dreams and encourage the other to do so. The writer and director of the film Damien Chazelle, who also wrote and directed the critically acclaimed Whiplash is actually only 32 years old! The fact that he is so young and has already created such great and lauded films was personally very inspiring as well.

The film itself is a magical experience, it truly is. Everything about it was perfect; from the cinematography, to the production design, costumes, choreography, performances, music, La La Land scored high. The music is great and will seriously have you humming and playing the soundtrack on repeat for days after you watch it.

The performances in particular were strong. Both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone brought depth to their multi-faceted characters, infusing both drama and comedy into their performances. Needless to say, their chemistry was great. Gosling's performance in particular stood out as he easily delivered some of the best lines in the film. He also learned how to play many of his piano pieces which is impressive enough. The film really showcases some of the surprising musical talents of both actors. However, I thought the character development for two could have been stronger, in particular with Mia, whose character I was honestly not a huge fan of. Nevertheless, Mia and Sebastian still manage to effectively captivate the audience with their love and personal story.

Visually La La Land is simply gorgeous. A classic musical, there were many homages to the old Hollywood style musicals mixed in with the contemporary LA setting. From the dance numbers (Who can forget that beginning freeway scene?) to the elaborate stage sets, the film was able to achieve an impressive mixture of classical and modern film elements. While I am not aiming to name La La Land as the first ever modern musical of its time, I do think the film is worthy of praise for rejuvenating a genre that has become somewhat rare nowadays.

I would recommend La La Land. While its aspirations may seem lofty at times despite some flaws, the film still has so much emotion and heart that cannot be overlooked. After every musical number, I simply wanted to re-watch the whole scene again. The film is deeply satisfying and the love story, while sweet, is more focused on the journey of two people trying to achieve their dreams in the romantically painted town of Los Angeles, which I really found beautiful. La La Land provides a great movie-going experience and is a treat to watch.

On the Ticket Stub Love meter, I give La La Land a 4 1/2 out of 5 ticket stubs.

[Article originally published 02/24/2017]

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