I can’t be only one who was mildly confused upon viewing the trailer for this film. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, singing, dancing and floating in the sky? I was certainly intrigued. Given the on-screen chemistry between these two in previous films, in particular Crazy Stupid Love (2011), I was eager to see what this was all about. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, La La Land tells the story of Mia, an aspiring actress who is trying (and failing) to make it, and Sebastian, a pianist who has dedicated his life to jazz music. After numerous chance meetings, the inevitable happens and they fall in love. Part of their connection is the fact that they both understand the hardships that come along with working in the entertainment industry. Unlike the other relationships in their lives, they both encourage and inspire each other to pursue their career ambitions. However, whilst working towards their dreams of finding success, their relationship is put to the test.
You almost forget that this movie is set in modern-day Los Angeles because of its very distinct ‘old Hollywood’ vibe. Both characters obsess over the way show business used to be, and constantly reference films of the past such as Casablanca, Funny Face and An American in Paris (just to name a few). The title itself is a nickname given to the city of LA, where those who desperately seek stardom are considered somewhat out of touch with reality. This is reflected in the movie’s ability to create a whimsical dream-like state for audiences, featuring magnificent scenic backdrops that are too spectacular to be a reality. Even the costuming rings true to styles of the 40s and 50s, but focuses on bold colours for an upbeat and modern twist. Set design and specific filming locations also dabble with elements of the art deco era. Everything about this film feels classic.
The soundtrack is perhaps the most notable aspect of La La Land. The score and other featured songs were both composed and orchestrated by Justin Hurwitz. There are many fantastic musical numbers sprinkled throughout, but Mia and Sebastian’s theme song is truly enchanting. Music lovers who appreciate a good piano number should definitely check out this soundtrack.
If you enjoy musicals, there’s no doubt you’ll fall in love with this film. It is visually beautiful, the song and dance scenes are mesmerising and the casting is spot on. Ultimately, La La Land explores whether love trumps all challenges, and does so in the most entertaining way possible.
La La Land is in cinemas now.
All images via La La Land official website