Directed and written by Damien Chazelle, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. An aspiring actress and a jazz Pianist fall for one another in Los Angeles.
Damien Chazelle, he has already achieved an oscar nomination for ‘Whiplash’, a powerful film exploring the world of Jazz drumming that he both wrote and directed. ‘La La Land’ is poised to do the same thing at this year’s Oscars, having already broken the record for the number of awards won at the Golden Globes with 7 wins. Unbelievably he is 31 years old, so at the age of 24, I’m a tad behind.
Chazelle is a truly powerful filmmaker, he understands both film and music on a depth that seems almost wrong based on how young he is. ‘La La Land’ is an homage to the classic musicals, a genre I will sheepishly admit I have very little knowledge of. Despite this gap in my knowledge, when I watched ‘La La Land’ I felt at various moments transported back to that era. Chazelle orchestrated every single scene superbly, from the sets themselves to the specific style of wardrobe, to the vibrant carefully chosen colours and finally the expert handling of the lighting. Chazelle absolutely understands this genre and it feels as though this project was very close to his heart.
Chazelle has encapsulated what it means to pursue a dream. To understand so profoundly one’s journey, to take risks, to work hard, to face disappointments, to feel anguish and jubilation. Chazelle’s understanding of this process is profoundly moving to watch and really struck an emotional cord with me.
One example which is a testament of Chazelle clear understanding of cinema is the opening scene. Not only is it a catchy number that immediately envelops you, but the choose of dancers is intelligent and purposeful. The dancer’s themselves showcase a variety of ethnicities, body types, and music genres while they all dance on and around the cars stuck in traffic. Diversity is a particularly hot topic in the film industry, and Chazelle has explored this in a clear expression of a community without needing to overly emphasise his point.
The script intelligently interprets a great many themes during the course of ‘La La Land’. From commenting on the growth of Jazz music in a modern era while others cling to its history. To the meta introspection of this genre in a comedic yet serious tone, to a refreshingly original understanding of love. Before finally tackling the issues of struggling to live in a material world of Los Angles while your heart belongs to a different era.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone first worked together on the romantic comedy “Crazy, Stupid Love”. The films remains a favourite of mine, partly because of the genuinely funny and intelligent script, one that steps away from the stereotypical format of that genre; and partly because of the undeniably profound chemistry between Gosling and Stone. It is very rare, I feel, for two people to work so well together but to not overshadow one another in any scene, they have created this perfect balance of romance, comedy and at times an intensity of love and understanding of one another.
Gosling is as always a remarkable actor, much in the same way Tom Hardy comes across. Both actors have a prominent physical language, it’s a subtle art that surprisingly few actors truly possess, and it provides an entirely new dimension to any character either of them plays. Gosling plays Sebastian, a Jazz pianist who is stuck in the past to when Jazz first started, he is an avid collector of objects belonging to his heroes and is struggling to come to terms with the new modern perception of Jazz.
Emma Stone is a marvelous actress, the last thing I saw her in was the Spider-Man series, and though I do love that genre, female characters usually suffer from a lack of self-development and an almost none existent individualism. Stone has reached a new level of intensity in ‘La La Land’ as I found myself totally lost in her story, her performance is profoundly moving with an ability to totally capture you in the moment.
Though I love films, it is rare that a film has such a profound effect on me as this one did, leaving me speechless as I left the cinema. ‘La La Land’ is such a genuinely powerful story that I honestly did not prepare myself. As someone whose desire is to live my dream of working in the film industry, I found myself particularly overwhelmed by one of the best films I have ever watched.
I am aware that I have used the word profound throughout this review, it is intentional as it is a word that I feel really best summarises the film, beautifully profound.
OVERAL ***** The music, the cast, the script, the colours, the style, the profoundly engaging and intelligent narrative has created a classic piece of cinema history.
RECOMMENDATION – I cannot think of a single reason why you should not watch this film, but a thousand reasons why you should.