La La Land Review
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Dancing, singing, original screenplay, original soundtrack, drama, romance, emotion, and so much more. But the simplest way you can describe La La Land is an old-fashioned musical, the one that traffics in the kind of billboard emotions and timeless Hollywood forms that can hit audiences like a brick of emotions. What’s interesting about the film is that it’s not exactly a passé film: it’s a boy-meets-girl with a 21st-century love. But it’s also about what it takes to be an artist in a world that may not believe in art anymore.
The first time I watched Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, I was in love. I sat in my chair, expecting to see a musical, just like the ones I’ve seen before. What I didn’t expect was to leave the movie theater in tears with a broken heart, but also full of such hope. When I watched the film a second and third time, I felt the same way, just 2 times more than I originally did.
In La La Land, Chazelle has done what many writers and directors have failed to do in the past decade: to make musicals matter again. It would seem like the closest thing to a good musical in this generation might just be Disney cartoons and the Fox show Glee, and I’m only pointing out the musical aspect of it, not the storyline. For years, the genre that helped Hollywood’s golden age glitter has sputtered, resurfacing in Broadway adaptations like Into the Woods or sneaking in sideways in the Magic Mike movies, where the music is canned and the dancing grindingly dirty. Musicals have always been for kids and nostalgia.
Mia (Emma Stone) is a struggling actress, spending half of her time going to movie and tv show auditions and the other half working as a barista in a coffee shop at a movie studio in Hollywood. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who dreams of opening a successful jazz club in Los Angeles, but is working at a restaurant, playing Christmas tunes. They both dream of becoming successful, but they also dream of keeping the love towards their dream alive for as long as possible.
Chazelle’s writing and directing, Justin Hurwitz’s music, Linus Sandgren cinematography, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s acting, and the many producers, artists and everyone who was included in the film have brought back the magic within musicals. La La Land grabs the audience by their hearts and their emotions, a climax of an intoxicating journey all into the sweetness of old-movie love, ending with such stillness and nostalgia that completely enraptured the audience. The flow within La La Land doesn’t just move the audience, but it moves with such grace that you wouldn’t even notice the change. It’s a promise of an instant mood enhancement while capturing the audience’s attention.
With 7 wins from the 2017 Golden Globes and 6 wins from The 2017 Academy Awards, La La Land has flourished through the media, the box office and through the Academy. La La Land will ultimately be remembered throughout film and musical history. But it’s not just a musical; it’s a love story, an inspiring story, a film that will break hearts and make you smile through the tears, a film that parents will one day share with their children.