La La Land is about Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling).
Mia is a struggling actress turned cashier who stands in front of executives from Hollywood who would rather concentrate on their phones instead of listening to her giving her soul into her acting auditions. No one cares for her dreams and there are plenty of insecurities and fears lurking. Things are not as vibrant as her clothing. Sebastian, with Ryan Gosling goodness, is passionate for Jazz. He plays the piano like a king. In terms of achieving success he doesn’t really have anything but clearly a lot of desire. He aims to open a Jazz cafe in LA which plays “real jazz”. The story is an ode to the ‘City of Stars’ and our characters ask ‘Are you shining just for me?’ It’s a story about passion, love, jazz, colors, dreams, hopes and real life at the same time.
It’s about how we stay focused on course to find our passions and sometimes in life some person who we’d never thought we would date, comes in our life to completely derail us. The pain of gaining someone and then losing yourself. Now tell me you haven’t felt like that in real life.
The first shot of La La Land is 3–4 minute dance sequence with some brilliant and technically astounding camera/dance moves on a traffic jam on a flyover in Los Angeles. To be able to see this 35mm film shot with cinemascope lenses in IMAX was incredible. The colour palette of a beautiful dreamland of a city (LA) were an absolute delight to watch. I often love when film and film makers are confident enough to show meaningful wide shots of spaces where our characters live and breathe.
Damien Chazelle, the director of La La Land holds plenty of frames for a beautiful amount of time. The film, just because of the camera work, is able to allow us a proper window into the lives of these people. You might have heard/seen posters of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dancing to beautiful sunsets of LA but what perhaps what you realize when you actually see them doing this, is the hard work and commitment which must have gone into a process of making this beautiful film. This is clearly a film made with passion, with love and for the artists and the dreamers. Yes this film is for the ‘fools who dream’ ‘no matter how silly it may seem.’
Let’s talk about the music, shall we? You would imagine a modern musical to perhaps be a little distinct in terms of the singing, dancing and the dramatic scenes? No … La La Land is differently abled masterpiece. The music, the lyrics, the technical proficiency, the characters and the story are all telling the same coherent story. Like Damien’s first film Whiplash where the editing and shots are so precise that it feels like a perfect blend of quick emotional surges and slow breathing holding shots. The film makes you feel so many emotions yet gives you faith and motivation to continue dreaming.
Stands out scenes for me were …
- Mia’s audition at the end: Emma Stone singing in this continuous take revealing what her character feels is powerful. Specially when an image of a struggling artist like that lingers on screen for a while it leaves a lasting impression. This is the scene that will probably nudge the Oscar in her favour.
- Epilogue at the end: Beautiful and mesmerizing musical montage storytelling. With an end so heartbreaking yet poignant and true. The writing and characters are simply magical.
- ‘City of stars’ sequences: My favorite soundtrack in a loooong time.
- Basically the whole movie is brilliant.
Make no mistake about it …
La La Land is a destined to be a classic. It’s a worthy IMAX experience.
Although I have yet to see the likes of Manchester by the Sea, Silence, Moonlight etc. I would be surprised if this one doesn’t win the 2017 Academy Awards for best soundtrack, best song, best actress (Emma Stone) and best film.