Spending the night at the movie theater watching La La Land, the modern musical adapted for the big screen, is anything but “a waste of a lovely night,” as the couple in the film sing. Watching the movie for the first time left me with a sudden urge to go sign myself up for the Mercy musical and a longing to hop on a plane to Los Angeles.
What’s extremely notable is this film’s ability to capture the fluidity within music, dance, acting, and cinematography. Director and writer Damien Chazelle perfectly balances both music and cinema while cinematographer Linus Sandgren effortlessly places the viewer in the center of all the action.
The film brings back nostalgia for any film buff or musical enthusiast as this film includes techniques used in classics like Singing in the Rain and West Side Story. This was most recently noted in a video created by Sara Preciado which places the film side by side with the classic on-screen musicals that inspired the choreography.
Each musical scene is shot in what appears to be a breathtaking single-take, much like the award-winning 2014 Broadway-inspired film Birdman, which also featured Emma Stone. I would describe the music as a mixture of show tunes and jazz with a modern twist. Every song left me tapping my toe along to the beat. I have to admit, I began listening to the soundtrack on Spotify almost immediately after watching the film.
La La Land tells the story of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist who falls in love with Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress. The movie follows the two along their love story as they aspire to fulfill their dreams. Though the film takes place in the present, I was constantly questioning exactly when the movie was supposed to be take place as there are constant references to old Hollywood of the 1950s. The only thing that made me conclude otherwise was the regular use of modern technology like the iPhone.
Once again the duo of Gosling and Stone team up to bring us their third movie together. The pair’s on-screen chemistry is undeniable, and I couldn’t imagine a better match for the roles. I enjoy that neither Gosling or Stone have an extraordinary set of vocals. Their voices, while pleasing to the ear, give the characters a sense of humanity despite pulling the film away from its Broadway-inspired roots. This was vastly contradicted with the minor role of Sebastian’s band mate, Keith, played by award-winning singer-songwriter John Legend. Though Legend has done very little work in the acting field, he delivered a spectacular performance. His role truly brought together the modern jazz music aspects of the production.
The film has received lots of attention after receiving a total of 23 awards since its release in early December. This includes six awards at the 74th annual Golden Globes. However, most notable is the record-shattering 14 nominations for the upcoming 2017 Oscars. Tune into ABC’s broadcast of the event on Feb. 26 to see the results.
La La Land is rated PG-13.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pdqf4P9MB8
Watch the side-by-side comparison of the film to classic musicals here: https://vimeo.com/200550228