By Anna Lucchinetti
La La Land tells the story of two performers, Sebastian and Mia who encounter each other on the path for success. Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a jazz musician who wishes to raise enough money to open his own jazz club, are both looking for an opportunity when they find one and other. Overall, the film has been very welcomed by audiences and critics alike. Both The Guardian and The Telegraph rated the film five stars and congratulated the shockingly young director, Damien Chazelle, for reminding them of the golden age of musical cinema. La La Land has been nominated for fourteen separate awards at the 2017 Oscars, ultimately claiming six.
The film has been much particularly praised because of the links it shows to older films that built the groundwork of musical cinema. Peter Bradshaw notices references to Singin’ in the Rain and Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You, alongside A Star is Born, especially regarding the dynamics between the two protagonists. However, everyone agrees that the magical ingredient that makes La La Land such a masterpiece are the acting skills, rather than the physical dancing and the singing.
In his review in The Guardian, Bradshaw praises Emma Stone for her incredible performance, claiming that in La La Land we see Emma Stone at her finest. He also identifies the actress as the element that creates the emotional connection between the film and the spectator. However, it is possible to say that La La Land does not take risks when dealing with dancing and singing. In fact, the choreography and the songs chosen for the duo were impeded by their limited dancing skills. As Bradshaw fairly claims ‘Gosling and Stone are not natural singers, yet there is something very real and human in the way they handle their songs’. I couldn’t agree more! I also asked Lucy Carruthers (a member of the MTS and DramaSoc here at Royal Holloway), about her opinion on the film. She said that the dancing would have been more ambitiously choreographed if the directors had cast professional dancers, but what makes the film successful is the love story itself. She added that there is something magical in the casual way Ryan Gosling sings, as it matches the nonchalance of his character.
Ultimately, the way La La Land presents itself is genuine, simple and spontaneous, and it is because of these qualities that the film is surprisingly touching. While watching the film, the viewer is mesmerised by the colourful costumes and settings, which recall the cinematic style of the 50’s. The greatest achievement by the director is his ability to make everyday life seem magical and leave the audience with a feeling of hope and ambition. The film succeeds in showing how life can be beautiful and awarding in its simplicity. Sometimes you just need to find the right time and place, or the right person.
Star rating 4.5/5
Featured image courtesy of Summit Entertainment