When I purchased my ticket for La La Land, I had no idea what to expect. It is one of the most anticipated films of the year but the trailer, although visually outstanding, made the movie seem somewhat ambiguous with regards to the story it was trying to tell. All of this uncertainty did not matter however as the opening scene commenced and we were reminded of the film’s musical roots with a flash mob of people singing and dancing on top of their cars whilst waiting in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway. This scene, which is simply mesmerising, is a far cry from director Damien Chazelle’s 2014 blockbuster Whiplash and 2015’s 10 Cloverfield Lane but with all of this under his belt by the age of 32, his career is off to a glittering start.
From this point on, we are able to gather a sense of plot and it isn’t long before we are introduced to Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a struggling jazz pianist. The two meet and we follow them as they are, as cliché as it sounds, forced to choose between their careers and each other.
La La Land is a quintessential musical film and I think one of the many reasons why it has made the impact it has is because Hollywood has overlooked this genre in favour of remakes and science fiction thrillers in recent years but we only have to look back at Philippa Lloyd’s Mamma Mia (2008) to remind ourselves how much people love these movies. It grossed over $600 million worldwide and was nominated for over 20 awards but with critics predicting record-breaking success for La La Land, it has the potential to dominate this year’s awards season.
The film features a number of original songs and this is effective in breaking up the story and reminding us that we are in fact watching a musical as the story often makes us forget. However, do not let the fact that it is heavily music-based put you off viewing this film as the striking cinematography and spectacular acting from Stone and Gosling make it one of the best feel-good films in years and one you simply must see to believe.
– Erin Smith, Correspondent (Film)