Last Friday, I went to see La La Land: the Daniel Chazelle gem that has been nominated for fourteen Oscars. A generous number of nominations which is entirely deserved. This romantic musical comedy-drama left me done for in my red seat. Never before had a jazz themed musical found its way into my heart.
La La Land tells the tale of two people struggling in Los Angeles: Mia (an aspiring actress) and Sebastian (a struggling jazz pianist). While Sebastian tries to single-handedly save jazz, Mia shifts between her job as a barista and failing auditions. When they meet, everything changes.
Mia and Sebastian are portrayed by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling respectively. Giving non singing/dancing actors a part in a musical can ruin the film. Here it didn’t. Although their voices aren’t necessarily Grammy award-winning material, they fit the film perfectly. The entire soundtrack is magical and their raw and simple voices contribute to that. As does their dancing. It helps that they have amazing chemistry. They did so in Crazy, Stupid, Love. and they haven’t lost that. I feel like this film would not have become such a hit, if it weren’t for the casting on those two. At least not in my book.
This film left me sitting in the theatre with a brick on my heart. Even though it has been 2 days, that brick hasn’t left me. The story isn’t perfect, which is what makes it so perfect. Things mostly play out the way you’d expect them to if it were real life. The characters are beautifully imperfect and the storyline reflects that.
One thing that makes La La Land stand out is the soundtrack. Composer Justin Hurwitz really outdid himself (which shows on the enormous list of awards for this soundtrack on his Wikipedia page). The jazz themed songs have been used in such a way that the repeated use of one of them adds greatly to the emotional charge of that particular scene at the end (you’ll know what song and scene I mean if you’ve seen the film). I for one can’t stop listening to the soundtrack and have been writing this blog post while emotionally listening to it. Could that be influencing my judgement? Nah.
I loved this film and I think it deserves all the positive response that it has gotten. Unless you despise the genre, I strongly recommend you go see it, before it stops running in the cinemas. This is a film that is supposed to be watched on the big screen. It has that old school Hollywood feel to it. It’s a magical beauty.
Watch the trailer here.