Thanks to eOne Entertainment, we had the chance to see La La Land before its national release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
In his third directorial outing, 31-year-old Damien Chazelle has delivered an energetic, heartfelt throwback to the grand old Hollywood musicals of yore. 2014’s Whiplash garnered Chazelle a clutch of award nominations, from BAFTAs to Oscars; and La La Land just may be the film to bring them home. Set in present-day Los Angeles, La La Land is a sparkling, studio-system affair that centres on the relationship between Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), an impassioned jazz pianist and Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring starlet and playwright.
The opening scene, a one-shot ensemble affair set in a freeway traffic jam, explodes onto the screen in effervescent Broadwayesque fervour. Intricate camera choreography mirrors the lithe, graceful motorists who jump and twirl on car hoods and dance down the freeway to the strains of opening number Another Day of Sun. This is but the first of a series of meet-cutes for our two bright young things, whose gazes inevitably meet across the gridlock…shortly before they give each other the finger, that is. They meet again when Mia encounters Sebastian playing in a restaurant, though the latter is too preoccupied with having just been fired to return her obvious interest. See her, Sebastian! Of course, we know that kismet has more in store for the pair, and are eventually rewarded for suspending our disbelief.
Gosling and Stone have delightful onscreen chemistry: he’s smooth, graceful, and oozes old-world debonair; she’s smart and radiant and lights up the screen. Together they are a clever casting choice for this tale of artistic passion and holding fast to dreams, however elusive they may seem. This is the third time the pair have appeared as onscreen lovers. Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) and Gangster Squad (2013) demonstrated their appeal as a duo. In La La Land, their connection is a thing of true beauty. The pair face turbulence in the shape of fluctuating fortune and there are melancholic moments throughout. Nevertheless, Chazelle’s message about dreams, destiny, and the people we hold dear remains true to the very end. After the tumultuous year 2016 proved to be, La La Land is a welcome tonic and reminds us of the magic of Hollywood and its spirit-lifting power.
La La Land is in cinemas December 26