“La La Land” is written and directed by Damien Chazelle and stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The film is about an aspiring actress who keeps running into a jazz pianist, and the two fall for each other as they attempt to follow their dreams in the city of Los Angeles.
Damien Chazelle made one of my favorite films of all-time with 2014’s “Whiplash”, so the fact that this is his next project is enough to get me excited. Pair that with a fantastic acting duo and some absolutely beautiful trailers, and this quickly became one of my most anticipated films of the year.
This movie is absolutely breathtaking to look at, as each and every scene is perfectly shot and is filled with bright, beautiful colors. Cinematographer Linus Sandgren makes visual poetry in this film, as each and every shot is a gorgeous one and one that brings the scene to life, and, on visuals alone, this is a stunning film.
Damien Chazelle once again proves himself as one of the most talented actors working today, as this is a masterfully written, brilliantly directed film. Chazelle not only makes a visually gorgeous movie, but also one that is beautifully told, as the script stays sharp from start to finish, and the characters of Mia and Sebastian are ones who are relatable to the audience and unique in their own ways all at the same time. Chazelle also elegantly blends nostalgia of classic musicals into the modern day without missing a beat, and it makes for an incredibly lively, energetic experience that is simply addicting to watch. To come from 2014’s “Whiplash” and make a film just as brilliantly written and directed merely two years later is simply unthinkable, and Chazelle has done just that.
The acting performances from both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are spectacular, with Stone particularly really coming into her own. Both of these two have been great in many films before, but these may be their best performances to date. Gosling is terrific as Sebastian, a jazz pianist trying to revitalize the genre, as he is witty and charming, and also can be quite rude, and Gosling plays all of these things perfectly. Stone truly shines as Mia, an aspiring actress struggling to land her first role, bringing fantastic energy in every scene she’s in, and also bringing some terrific insight on Hollywood as a whole in the process. As great as the two are on their own, it is the simply electrifying chemistry that the two share that makes them special, and I cannot think of any actors who could have worked so brilliantly on screen together as these two do here.
The music and score done here by Justin Hurwitz are absolutely incredible, and easily the best of the year. Along with the stunning visuals on display, Hurwitz brings life to even the smallest of moments with his phenomenal score, and even more tremendous than that is the soundtrack he has created. I am pretty indifferent on musicals as a whole, and while there are standouts like “Singin’ In The Rain”, I usually don’t look forward to musicals all that much. What Hurwitz and Chazelle have done with “La La Land” is on the level of “Singin’ In The Rain”, as each and every song is perfectly blended into the plot and never feels tired or overdone. The singing and choreography that goes along with these stunning melodies are just as spectacular and grand, and they all add together to make the greatest modern musical to date by a landslide.
As I’ve said numerous times already, “La La Land” is undeniably upbeat and intoxicatingly fun to watch, and it is truly the film that 2016 needed. In a year full of sad celebrity deaths (Rest in Peace, Carrie Fisher) and saddening news, this film is the spark that can make anyone feel good no matter what is going on outside of the theater. Chazelle had mastered the dark, twisted, and emotionally moving two years before, but now he has found a way to master the positive and inspiring while still keeping the emotional impact, and that is remarkable to say the least.
Here’s a first for you, I have to bring up the lighting department that worked on this movie, because the way the lighting focuses in on the emotions of characters in specific scenes is unbelievably moving, and had me in awe each and every time they did it. Never have I wanted to bring up the lighting team, but “La La Land” forced me to, as the work that is done here is truly gorgeous stuff.
Not to keep bringing up “Whiplash”, but I’m going to bring up “Whiplash” one more time, as it has quite possibly my favorite finale in the history of cinema, so for “La La Land” to have nearly as incredible of an end as that is mind-blowing for me. While it may not be an all-time great, it is damn near close, as it perfectly wraps up some poignant themes and left me with both a positive feeling as well as a saddening one, and that only can make sense once you have seen the film. Chazelle has done it again with this conclusion, and I have nothing but respect for this man’s ability to end a film correctly.
Super, super small tweaks that I have about this magnificent film that really just feel nitpicky at this point. There were some small times that I wanted the film to pick up the pace a tiny bit, but there so few and far between that they can certainly be forgiven. This next point is one that I may have to revoke when thinking back, as I think it was done intentionally, but there are moments that felt a bit predictable and clichéd for me with the storytelling, but as I stated, this could totally be on purpose, and in that case, I will shut up.
“La La Land” is a triumph in every form of the word. The direction by Mr. Damien Chazelle is astounding, the visuals are gorgeous, the music and score are beautiful and touching and exciting all at the same time, the performances are excellent, and it all leads up to a conclusion that is one of the best moments of the year. This is a movie that everyone and their mothers should be flocking to, because “La La Land” is the jolt of vibrant energy and life that everyone needs, regardless if musicals aren’t your thing. The way the movie mixes old and new, the way it takes a classic concept and blends it into a modern setting all while adding in timely themes is something that people of all shapes and sizes can appreciate. Flock to the theaters to see this gem now, “La La Land” is a spectacle and one that deserves all the praise in the world.
What did you think of “La La Land”? Comment below with your thoughts.