Genre: Musical/Romantic Comedy
Director: Damien Chazelle
Running Time: 128 minutes
Main Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend
Release Date: 26 December 2016
Gosling, Stone and Chazelle are the stars that make this romantic slash comedy slash musical film work, a revolutionary film for all 3 genres.
La La Land follows budding actress Mia (Emma Stone) and jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they try to make it in Los Angeles in there respected fields. They meet under typical romance movie chance and a love story ensues. The film structures around the love between Mia and Sebastian as they both aim for their own dreams. The title La La Land carries two different meanings, firstly it is a nickname given to Los Angeles and secondly it is a euphemism for a state of being out of touch with reality, as we encounter the love story in Los Angeles and the main characters begin to lose touch with reality when their love story begins.
They are the two main acting stars in the film, as they return to the cinema screen as lovers for the third time (Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad). The other star in La La Land is screenplay creator and director Damien Chazelle, who has crafted a bubbly, uplifting and beautiful film, full of all the conceptions of the rom com genre and the musical genre meshed into one. He combines these tropes with his lead actors to enable them and the film to shine brightly in a bright setting.
Gosling and Stone continue to show how wonderful they work together as they seamlessly make you feel like you are joining their love roller coaster and it never feels forced, more a natural feel which makes there musical scenes more impactful. From a tap dance scene at the beginning of their relationship to an intimate and emotional piano song to the big final act, that draws the film to a close.
However at times when both Stone and Gosling are singing it just doesn’t feel like there voices are strong enough to keep up with the music, struggling to hit the higher notes right, but they still feel comfortable with their songs. This down point takes the back seat as their chemistry together drives the story. The chemistry between the two constitutes why they were both casted for the film as the film is more a half musical, half love story and a half love story, half musical rather than all of one and little of the other.
Chazelle wrote the screenplay and directed the film himself and he has done a wonderful job with it, combining it with the score of Justin Hurwitz and the chorography of Mandy Moore to create a movie filled with wonderful music and dance sequences. Examples of the combination between the 3 made 3 outstanding scenes, the opening pre-credits traffic jam scene, where Sebastian and Mia encounter each other briefly for the first time, the sunset scene as the two look for Mia’s Prius, with its jazz score and tap dance routine and the third acts large montage/dance/singing scene, which draws a close to the narrative and the film.
The film is never riddled with the large numbers associated with the musical hits of the past, nor does it focus on the big defining moments that are associated with the rom com genre but rather subtly has them there. Its this subtly that makes the movie so great, as well as the wonderfully crafted script injected with a bit of humour to keep us on our toes.
Chazelle also chose to shoot the whole film in cinemascope allowing a wide viewing range but still allowing us to feel intimate with the mains as neither of Gosling or Stone, whether it is single shot of either or both represented in a scene, they never feel out of focus. Chazelle is also able to focus on the smaller things as close ups are used sparingly only to trigger key moments within the plot, one such example being the hand holding scene when they first begin to date. The man to thank for this cinematography Masterclass is Linus Sandgren, who is able to capture all of Chazelle’s ideas on the screen for us to the enjoy.
If you are a fan of musicals, this is for you. If you are a fan of Romantic comedies, this is for you. If you want a change of scenery with your movie or a different movie to watch for a date to the cinemas, this is for you. La La Land is bubbly uplifting and a masterpiece of Musicals and Romantic comedies alike.
The Front Row Opinion