Director: Damien Chazelle; Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Finn Witrock, Josh Pence, J.K.Simmons.
Yesterday evening I went to see the award winning La La Land. This delectable masterpiece is the winner of 7 Golden Globes, 11 BAFTA nominations, and the expected winner of the 89th Academy Award for Best Picture. An extremely worthy winner in many eyes, I am sure.
This beautifully crafted film is a musical, not any normal kind of west-end or broadway musical, but one that is on a continuum, somewhere between Singin’ in the Rain and Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You. Particularly with the opening sequence, when a group of dream-seeking young people dancing on car roof-tops and singing to the new lyrical masterpiece of Justin Hurwtiz, we are reminded of Alan Parker’s Fame. This kind of musical is nostalgic of the 1960’s Hollywood musicals, old Hollywood, where glamour and romance were all the rage. In an age of a political and action driven film industry – it was a Sunset Boulevard kind of palette cleanser. A gorgeous raspberry sorbet among the horror driven pack of World War II films, constantly making ‘movie history’, even when the history itself is incorrect. This spirit, which Chazelle captures so beautifully twirling and soaring through modern day LA, with its romantic purple sunsets, and clinging to the glamorous chivalry of Hollywood film sets, artistic jazz clubs, and the sad reality of both the film and music industry. The ultimate question of this film is; which is stronger: your love for one another or your love for your career?
The young people in question here are Seb; a struggling young jazz musician, with a half-formed, but whole hearted ambition to open his own jazz club, to defend his favourite music from extinction. Mia; an aspiring actress, working at the Warner Bros. Coffee Shop. Each needs an opportunity, instead, they find each other. Ths occurs during their meetcute. During the original traffic jam at the beginning of the movie. Their romance blossoms, giving each person in the cinema that fairytale feeling of how magical this story truly is, giving us the same expectation of any Disney princess film, the lovers will make it, beyond, and against all odds. But everyone in La La Land is struggling with ambition – and once our young lovers have waltzed through the stars, as they do, quite literally, half way through the film, in an gorgeous gravity-defying fantasia; the only way is down.
As the seasons of love are illustrated throughout, their relationship hits the realistic tumbles of any star-struck love affair, rarely written out for us in any Hollywood bonanza, certainly unexpected in this one. In a brilliant scene, of a romantic dinner, made by Seb (Gosling), in which a quarrel about priorities breaks out. They were not careful with what they wished for, and as a result, Mia and Seb find that success and careers are to come between them.
Chazelle and Hurwitz create musical numbers for the pair of them, and despite Gosling and Stone not being overly talented singers, they carry the melodic beauties off with fragility and charm, every time. There were many other actresses the director considered, with a better musical background, however, Stone fits the part beautifully. Something about her slight struggle within the higher range of the music creates a delicacy surrounding her character, but her confidence towards the lower notes, reveals the strength she has within herself.
This film is a wonderfully music orientated show piece. Something to give you a ray of sunshine ☀️.