La La Land
Damien Chazelle has done it again. Two years after his award-winning phenomenon, Whiplash, it’s not surprising that he’d be able to surpass expectations with another jazz-infused picture in the form of La La Land, a divine display of primary colours and glamour. You will leave the picture screen wanting to tap dance your way to the car and swirl around in the streets. Musicals aren’t for the faint-hearted, with their weak, predictable story lines and flamboyant dance sequences often deterring most film lovers, but then La La Land came along. Chazelle’s cinematography and screenplay is clever and exciting, with the film celebrating all things wonderful about the ‘40s and ‘50s, the golden age of Hollywood, whilst its contemporary setting avoids nostalgic tropes so common in period films.
Honestly, when the first scene began with a big dance and song number through the gilded streets of LA, I thought I was in for two hours of a glorified High School Musical. How wrong I was. The narrative begins with an aspiring actress, Mia (Emma Stone), who whilst hunting for that one successful audition meets the smooth, jazz fanatic Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Their first song together sends you back 60 years to Gene Kelly’s iconic sequence in Singin’ in the Rain, an homage to one of the finest moments ever captured on film. As their romance progresses, they both encourage each other to pursue one another’s ambitions, which ultimately leads to some hiccups along the way. I wouldn’t want to give anymore away! It is safe to say that both Stone and Gosling are stupendous - not exactly the most obvious choices for a musical picture, but their authentic voices are what differentiates this film from most others. It’s a rarity that a musical could be created with such allure, wit and underlying vitality, but La La Land does exactly that, and will leave you feeling charmed, optimistic, tapping your feet with tears in your eyes.
Last Friday, in an interview with Graham Norton, Ryan Gosling summarised exactly what Chazelle has achieved with this film. He said, ‘I grew up loving those old-fashioned Hollywood movies from the fifties, but I assumed they were a thing of the past. When I met Damien Chazelle, the director, he was so passionate about making one again. Not just a nostalgic, ‘those were the days’ kind of film, but he felt there was a way to make them feel relevant again. That was an exciting idea.’ Relevant it certainly is, and this is epitomised in the film’s recent record-breaking success at the Golden Globes. The picture won every award it was nominated for, including best actor and actress for the leading couple, totalling 7 awards altogether. As of about 20 minutes ago, it has been nominated for 14 FUCKING OSCARS!!! This equals the tally set by All About Eve and Titanic, so it’s up there in good company. The last musical to win ‘Best Picture’ at both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards was Rob Marshall’s Chicago in 2002, but the question remains on everyone's lips: will La La Land set the record?
Words by: Scarlett