I love “La la land (2016)”. Maybe an actual sentence would be, I am obsessed with La La Land. The glamorous movie and the powerful romantic epilogue made me fall in love with films again.
La La Land is the story of two struggling artists. Dreamers with passion fall in love in modern Hollywood, told through drama and contemporary musical numbers. When Mia (Emma Stone) confesses that she hates jazz, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) takes her to a jazz club. As the band plays, Sebastian explains, “look at the sax player right now, he just hijacked the song, he’s just on his trip. Every one of these guys is composing, rearranging, they are writing, and they are playing melody, so its conflict, its compromise, it’s just new every time, brand new every time very very exciting” with passion and enthusiasm to Mia. Sebastian wants to open a jazz club where they can play pure jazz. At the same time, Mia dreams of being an actress. These two L.A. dreamers come together with their shared desire and passion. Do their dreams come true?
Before making an exhilarating movie, “Whiplash (2014)”, when director and writer Damien Chazelle approached the studio for financing the “La La Land,” the studio insisted on changing the dying jazz to rock music and the bittersweet ending to a happy ending. Chazelle disagreed and moved on. Like Sebastian and Mia characters, Damien Chazelle poured his love and passion for jazz and musical movies into La La Land, making it the best romantic musical film ever made (check: top romantic movies of all time).
The most attractive element for me is the script. I love movies about people’s passion. whatever it might be, painting in “Midnight in Paris,” astrophysics in the “The Theory of Everything,” boxing in “The Fighter.” I remember watching the trailer every day until I got a chance to see it in theatres, which made me fall in love with films again. And homages like Ingrid Bergman’s poster in Mia’s bedroom to “Singing In the Rain” to “Top Hat” are exciting to watch.
Director Damien Chazelle amazingly pulled the string maintaining classic movie magic and contemporary tone. He masterfully composites all elements of filmmaking, from rhythmic cinematography, bright music score, dynamic performance to his passionate and personal script. Whatever the dreams might be, the relatable screenplay, expertly directed, connects the audience emotionally. Looking forward to his next project about the 1930s film industry.
Quote from the movie “So bring on the rebels, the ripples from pebbles, the painters, and poets, and plays, and here’s to the fools who dream.”
Presented in cinemascope, the movie was shot on celluloid film (not digitally). The camera rhythmically movies beating to the songs, and the long takes will observe the audience into the characters. The beautiful opening song number “Another day of the sun” in which an epic traffic jam turns into an upbeat spectacle as drivers jump out of their cars and sing and dance. With a beautiful color palette and the edited long takes look like a continuous shot (like 1917, Birdman), it introduces the viewers to the tone and structure of the movie.
The rich, vibrant colors, purple sky, orange sunset, shots in magic hour, lighting from street lights, colors of fabric are combined with an uncut moving camera that feels magical, fresh, and contemporary.
The melancholy melody, upbeat score of La La Land using piano, saxophone, and trumpet. And bright and fun songs with unforgettable lyrics are like a beautiful symphony that doesn’t need a story, dialogues to tell the story. By all means, it’s not a musical you expect (not like Hollywood golden age musicals). Singing and dancing have a natural progression; here, the music is not the fantasy escape; it’s more like a showing of reality in an articulate way.
This is the third film for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone working together, and their chemistry is charismatic. Both fervently performed in roles that they can relate to in real life. Emma Stone, in real life, left her school to pursue her dream as an actress and like Mia. Ryan Gosling had experienced auditions where he was performing a crying scene. The casting director took a phone call during it, talking about her lunch plans.
Ryan had to learn piano because director Damien Chazelle wanted to shoot the music sequence with uninterrupted long takes without the use of hand double or CGI, not only that both actors took singing and dancing lessons. More crucial to the film’s success, it added a lot to the movie, characters, and personality. La La Land broke the record with 14 Oscar nominations and won for best director, cinematography, original music score, actress, song, and production design.
Conclusion: Here’s to the hearts that love movies. Here’s to ones who romanticize filmmaking, lusted for cinematography, love-struck by music score. More than that, here is the film for people with passion and dreams. My rating 9/10.
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, john legend, Rosemarie DeWitt
Genre: Drama, Music, Comedy, Romance
(Thanks for reading)