Described as being the biggest film of the year (which isn’t much really considering we’re still only a few weeks into the new year..!), La La Land is a musical that follows aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) and Jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they meet, fall in love and persuade each other to follow their dreams. The film has already won numerous awards – including 7 Golden Globes (Best Motion Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and more) – and has 11 BAFTA nominations. There’s no doubt that the film will also receive several Oscar nominations too.
The film starts with a very impressive musical number staged across an LA freeway in the middle of a traffic jam – but weirdly neither of the lead characters are included. The first twenty minutes or so then follows Mia’s day as we are introduced to her character leading up the point in which she meets Sebastian. We then go back to the start again but this time following Sebastian. After that the film continues normally, seamlessly showing us both characters views.
Visually, everything about the film is stunning from costumes and setting to the musical numbers. There’s a really great moment during one of the numbers when the song slows down and Mia is walking through a crowd. All the characters slow down with the music – almost like they are mimicking slow-motion – and as the music speeds up, they do too. It’s brilliantly choreographed and something which really stuck in my mind after.
Emma Stone is a great actress, and one I’ve always loved, it’s nice to see her in a different role and showing off her singing and dancing skills! One of the reasons this film is so modern is due to the characters singing live in each take. There’s no lip-syncing during scenes, which makes it all the more believable but does mean some lyrics are hard to hear (the opening freeway sequence, a few times it was hard to make out what was being sung). Emma actually has a very good singing voice and her time on Broadway in Cabaret means she’s no stranger to giving great musical performances.
Ryan Gosling is not one I would have immediately thought of in regards to musicals, his voice isn’t fantastic but weirdly it works in this film, he’s not supposed to be a singer, he’s a pianist and apparently he learnt to play for the film. Every scene with a piano Ryan is actually playing it for real which is incredible when you see what he ends up playing! Ryan’s a very good actor and here he excels as the struggling musician trying to follow his dream of bringing Jazz back. This isn’t the first time Emma and Ryan have starred together – it’s actually the third after Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) and Gangster Squad (2013) – and yet again they work perfectly alongside each other. The chemistry between them is completely true, you can really see their characters falling in love and caring for each other. Not only do they act well together, it now turns out they dance well together too! I’m sure there will be plenty more Stone/Gosling films in the future.
Overall, La La Land has been hailed by critics as being this amazing modern film with links back to the old fashioned Hollywood films. However, I feel very disappointed by this film. Maybe there was too much expectation going in but I just didn’t get what all the hype was about! The story between Mia and Sebastian is great but frankly the musical numbers weren’t needed at all (and I love a musical I really do!), and a lot of the time the performances came about in situations where it didn’t really make sense for there to be one. Also, I genuinely don’t know what time period this film is supposed to be set in, everything is very modern but yet the clothes are all sixties. It’s also classed as a ‘comedy’ but I can’t remember one remotely funny moment. The soundtrack really isn’t all that, there’s not one song that I even remember thinking I really like – even John Legend doesn’t give us any good songs and he’s had some amazing hit songs! Most frustrating though is the ending, not in terms of story as that’s acceptable, but in that we are lead towards the end and then given a 10 minute fast-forward of the whole film but with an alternate ending, and then back to the original ending! It’s completely pointless and made the film one in which I wouldn’t really care about seeing again. Honestly don’t know why the world has gone crazy over it, which is disappointing as I so wanted to love it!