Synopsis: Mia, an aspiring actress and Sebastian, a struggling jazz musician fall in love whilst dreaming of success and stardom.
When ‘Whiplash’ came out in 2014, it quickly became one of my favourite films of the year, director Damien Chazelle had accomplished a wonderfully thrilling film about an aspiring Jazz drummer being trained by a tyrannical music teacher.
A year ago, when I first saw the trailer for his next film ‘La La Land’ I cannot lie that I was immediately set with excitement and high expectations. When I was finally able to drag my boyfriend to go see it in the cinema, I had become apprehensive. My recent history with films where I had high expectations had not gone quite as expected, reviews for Assassin’s Creed were awful and I was incredibly disappointed by Passengers. Needless to say, my worry was set at ease as soon as the opening song began and I was whisked away into what is surely one of the best musicals which I have seen in a very long time.
La La Land is a wonderfully fun and heartfelt film musical about the hopes of two star-crossed dreamers. It feels like a classic Hollywood film whilst at the same time being fresh and modern. It is full of classic Hollywood tropes and cliches, but they do not become tiresome and never once did I feel any exasperation.
The music at no point felt forced or out of place; characters bursting into song being an expression of their emotion and passion. Two songs which are the highlights of the film are City of Stars sung by Mia and Sebastian, which is a beautifully natural representation of Mia and Sebastian’s life at their happiness and The Fools Who Dream where Mia sings of her hope and determination whilst in an audition.
The two stars of the film, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are reminiscent of Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly in ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. They’re relationship developing throughout the film in such a genuine and graceful way that I became ridiculously (and probably over) invested in their relationship that their troubles only become the more heart-breaking as the film progresses.
Emma Stone does outshine Ryan Gosling- but only just. The two give performances with amazing integrity and passion. The two aren’t trained singers, but this does not become a hindrance when their singing staggers and slightly falters, only shows their human qualities. Their imperfections are what draw them and the audience together.
I’m not ashamed to say that I did cry, I’m a huge sap when it comes to musicals (I was a blubbering mess when I watched Les Misérables for the first time). I had become a bit too attached to the characters and found it very difficult to accept certain revelations. I felt that I had become a part of Mia and Sebastian’s lives, it was like they had become old friends. This is surely due to Stone and Gosling’s amazing performances and the wonderfully funny and heart-warming dialogue between the two.
La La Land is a great film to kick of the year with the characters hopes and dreams. It is charming, funny and at times silly. It has without a doubt, rubbed off on me and had me leaving with an optimistic glow and a desire to burst into song in the middle of the cinema foyer (I managed to hold back until we were outside, much to my boyfriend’s dismay). The film is a 12A, there are some moments of swearing and one instance of a rude hand gesture. But despite this it is a clean and innocent film, that can easily be enjoyed by all ages. If you are not a fan of musicals, this is not a film for you. There is no doubt that you will find the optimism and joy irate and the singing irksome. But if like me, you love musicals, classic Hollywood, films and still secretly sing along when you hear a classic Disney film song, then this film without question, will have you smiling from start to finish and falling more and more in love as each song is sang.