LFF 2016 – La La Land (2016)


In this day and age, it’s easy to be cynical and dismiss the idea of following your dreams and live happily ever after. After the phenomenal success of Whiplash, director Damien Chazelle dismisses cynicism to revive the all-singing, all-dancing musical for the modern age.

La La Land is set in present-day Los Angeles, where struggling actress Mia (Emma Stone) and jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) meet and fall in love, only to have their relationship tested by their respective successes and failures.

Back in the day, the MGM musicals starring Gene Kelly and Judy Garland were the epitome of entertainment, as their stars can act, sing and dance – in other words, a ‘triple threat’. But this genre has dwindled in popularity over the last few decades, with recent musical adaptations such as Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables failing to capture the vibrancy of the classic Hollywood musical. Instead, there is too much invested in production and aesthetics, so modern musicals ultimately lack the feel-good factor – which is where La La Land steps in.

La La Land triumphs in its simplicity, as Chazelle seamlessly transitions witty dialogue with beautifully choreographed numbers in a heartbeat. The all-too familiar plot has enough optimism to carry audiences through the characters’ turbulent relationship while retaining its emotional balance. As a result, audiences root for Mia and Sebastian to succeed but the film reminds them of real life and the twists it can deliver.

The film exudes positivity from the very first opening number, and its bright colours are beautifully vibrant. The music by Justin Hurwitz is phenomenal; ranging from the whimsical to the melancholic, each performance is catchy and beautifully performed. Gosling and Stone are brilliant together, and after working together in Crazy, Stupid Love and Gangster Squad, the pair have established a unique, natural chemistry that is rare nowadays.

Overall, La La Land glows with its technicolour vibrancy, and with its brilliant performance and music, it’s hard not to smile afterwards. Simply outstanding.

La La Land is out in UK cinemas on 13 January 2017.

Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, JK Simmons
Runtime: 126 min
Country: USA

Film Rating: ★★★★★

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