Does it live up to the hype?
Dubbed as the “film of the year”, La La Land is the most critically acclaimed movie of the awards season so far. With Damien Chazelle as the director, the film explores the trials and tribulations of trying to ‘make it’ in Hollywood, and the personal costs that this entails.
Set against the backdrop of beautiful modern day Los Angeles, La La Land follows the story of an aspiring young actress named Mia (Emma Stone), who’s chance encounter with struggling jazz musician Seb (Ryan Gosling) leads to a flurry of romance and opportunity. Their first encounter takes place as they are both symbolically stuck in a traffic jam on an LA highway. Refreshingly, it’s not love at first sight – Seb aggressively overtakes Mia’s car, beeping his horn loudly as she looks up from her audition script just long enough to give him a menacing glare. Not the most romantic of starts. But we know that in classic Hollywood style (and because we’ve seen the trailer), the pair were destined to meet again.
La La Land shows Emma Stone at her best. In her character, she creates an emotional connection with the audience – meaning we feel deeply every laugh, every rejection and every heartbreak right alongside her. She also provides moments of light-hearted relief throughout the film – for example, her montage of audition clips is truly funny (“No Jamal, you be trippin’”). Gosling compliments her character in every way, and his talent on the piano becomes even more extraordinary when you learn that he didn’t know how to play at all before the making of this movie.
Considering the huge musical numbers that arguably dominate this film, neither Stone nor Gosling are natural singers. However, perhaps this was a deliberate move. Hollywood is so often romanticised in the media as idealistic – the sun is always shining and perfection comes naturally. Few stop to consider how ironic this is in terms of the falsity that undermines this image. Hollywood is quite literally in itself an institution dedicated to the creation of something false – a movie, in other words – and La La Land reminds us of this. By singing just slightly off key and by being imperfect, just like every other person in the world, Stone and Gosling successfully bring Hollywood back down to that relatable level that we all recognise and enjoy.
La La Land successfully pays homage to those old classic Hollywood films, proving this genre to be timeless and still able to be enjoyed by audiences all over the world to this day. I would say to give the movie a chance – it may not be immediately captivating, but let me assure you that by the time those credits are rolling, you’ll furiously Googling the DVD release date whilst simutaneously offering yourselves up as company to those friends who are still to see it (and therefore obviously live under a rock). 5/5