Rating: 9/10 (Amazing)
La La Land is undoubtedly one movie that everyone is talking about. A different take on the modern love story, this musical has been winning accolades and reviews left and right. So I decided to check it out and see if all the hype was worth it. So how is the film? If I had to be honest, I loved it. Find out why in this review
Story: Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is an wannabe jazz musician who plays in a bar in Los Angeles. His boss (JK Simmons) fires him after he starts to play jazz songs instead of Christmas music. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress who wants to enter Hollywood and works part time at a coffee shop as a barista to pay for her auditions. Sebastian and Mia's paths eventually collide and they fall in love and discover themselves and what their heart calls for and the rest of the movie should be watched on screen.
Performances: Ryan Gosling, though I am not a fan, has delivered an absolutely subdued and superb performance. His effortless playing of the piano and his looks only add value to the character of Sebastian and the Canadian star pulls it off with aplomb. It's not the world's greatest performance, but Gosling manages to do well enough to get himself some awards for this one.
Emma Stone as Mia is the highlight and carries the film through it's best moments. She is simply outstanding and her chemistry with Ryan Gosling is crackling to say the least and they make a great pair.
JK Simmons is definitely subdued compared to his last collaboration with Chazelle (see Whiplash) and has a brief appearance. John Legend makes an impact as Keith in his debut. I can't really write about any others because there's hardly anyone else in the film besides these well known faces. The actresses who play Mia's friends are more than adequate.
Technicalities: Music and Background Score by Justin Hurwitz is simply superb and magical. City of Stars deserves a special mention and chances are you could be humming it after the movie is done. As this is a musical, the music plays a big part in the movie and the jazz and piano compositions are incredible and so nice to listen to. Cinematography by Linus Sandgren is excellent. He has captured the locales and sets of Los Angeles in a beautiful and stunning way and the color photography for each scene is on point and so detailed. Art design by Austin Gorg is outstanding. The sets in the film make up a big portion of the film and they're marvelous. Editing by Tom Cross is good for the most part but the film is a tad too long. Screenplay by Damien Chazelle is incredible and elevates the film. Dialogues are natural. Production Values by Fred Berger are amazing and excellent. The film is a rich product in the end and looks visually stunning.
Analysis: First things first, La La Land is a unique film. It's not your everyday romantic comedy that you see in Hollywood. It's a musical romantic comedy that has songs in between and dance sequences. It's not your typical summer popcorn blockbuster action entertainer. It's a different type of love story that uses music as it's main focus and the narrative is a bit slow.
Only a certain section of the audience has such a stomach for films like this, but if you're a person who wants to encourage good cinema, then you definitely need to watch this movie.
Damien Chazelle weaves his magic into this one his taking is so good and he extracts the best from his actors as well as his technical team. The film starts off with a stunning opening song sequence and then the plot moves forward. Chazelle has made sure that the characters are realistic and relatable and I'm sure you can connect with them to an extent. The film boasts of many odd and spectacular sequences such as the sunrise dance sequence and the conservatory sequence which is breathtaking to say the least.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling propels this film to the net level and they live and breathe their characters in the film. The inclusion of music is what separates this film from being routine and that is Chazelle's main focus at the end of the day. The climax really makes you think about your dreams and tells you all may not be perfect in the end.
On a whole, La La Land is a must watch for any film lover due to it's brilliant taking by director Damien Chazelle. Excellent performances, great music, amazing visuals, spotless direction, and the highlighted importance of music are the highlights of this movie.
Even if you don't like musicals, I can guarantee you that you will like this film. Two thumbs up.