Film Review: “La La Land”

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV, Reviews
Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Director Damien Chazelle, who brought us the critically acclaimed film “Whiplash,” writes a dazzling musical about the connection of love, the daring journey of pursuing one’s dreams and the unpredictability of city living.

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, is a musician who’s passionate about the dying genre of jazz music and dreams of opening his own jazz club one day. Mia, played by Emma Stone, is an aspiring actress who moved to Los Angeles to follow her dreams of making it big in the entertainment industry. Mia meets Sebastian on multiple occasions in the “city of lights” and the development of their relationship becomes the focus of “La La Land.”

This whimsical film intertwines the themes of love and ambition through lively, jazz-filled musical numbers. It shows how these qualities can motivate a couple like Sebastian and Mia to pursue their dreams in the presence of their grand adoration for one another. Achieving their dreams is a road full of pushes and pulls that tests their relationship and ultimately brings them to inevitable crossroads.

“La La Land” is a fun and playful film from beginning to end, filled with humor and unforgettable original music from composer Justin Hurwitz, performed by the cast.

An essential part of the film is its brilliant use of long takes during the musical numbers that keep viewers engaged. These numbers take the audience on a journey of fearless storytelling through innovative music and dance. The vibrantly colored sunsets throughout the scenes bring picture-perfect Los Angeles to life that gives Mia and Sebastian the dreamy backdrop they deserve.

Chazelle said in an interview for Arclight Cinemas that he felt the use of long takes was important in getting the audience to feel as if they were a part of it. This is especially apparent in the opening and ending numbers of “La La Land,” where the audience is taken on a cinematic ride as if they were part of the ensemble.

Gosling and Stone have an obvious onscreen chemistry in “La La Land,” just as they did in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” It was pleasantly surprising to hear their impressive singing voices that blend so well with the music of the film and with each other.

The film showcases the difficulty that a romantic relationship can face and the struggles that many ambitious couples endure. What is more prevalent, though? The desire for personal success or the desire to share life with a loving partner. Maybe couples don’t have to choose; maybe love and success can coexist. Chazelle beautifully explores this dilemma in “La La Land” with a modern, charming flare and seductive direction in its cinematography.

“La La Land” is a cinematic experience that instills feelings of nostalgia for past relationships and love. It’s a story about how love can motivate the ambition to succeed, and it reminds viewers not to take that combination for granted. The novelty of this exciting film can be appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed by many, which should certainly make it a top contender for Best Picture of the Year.

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