Review: La La Land

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Mesmerising

This nostalgic musical is a work of art unlike anything that's been seen in cinemas for decades!

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Every few years, a film comes along and completely changes the cinematic game, La La Land is one such film. Despite what the trailers will have you believe, this is not just another stereotypical musical. This musical, comedy-drama, fantasy film also pushes the boundaries of cinema with its incredible cinematography, acting and direction.

The film follows lives of aspiring actor, Mia (Emma Stone) and aspiring musician, Seb (Ryan Gosling) over the course of a year, as their paths continuously cross in pursuit of their respective dreams. What makes this film work, more than anything, is the believability of these two central characters, which is mainly due to the fantastic performances by Stone and Gosling. It is surely no mistake that two of the most charismatic actors working today were chosen to bring these characters to life. Even if you have never been to an audition, or been fired from your job as a restaurant pianist, the emotion and energy conveyed by these two actors make Mia and Seb completely relatable. They do not seem like two-dimensional representations, or (like many nominated roles) unrealistic caricatures, but genuine people, whose lives have simply been transplanted onto the screen.  It’s easy to see why Gosling and Stone both won the Golden Globe for their respective categories, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are just the first of many more awards to come!

It’ll be absurd to say that the performances are the only thing that make this film what it is, however, the effort shown behind the camera is equally impressive. Linus Sandgern’s cinematography completely elevates this film, as he skilfully guides us through Mia and Seb’s lives, like we are close friends watching from the sidelines. The use of light and colour employed, makes the film look like a work of art, and is reminiscent of classic musicals such as Singing in the Rain and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Indeed, the constant juxtaposition between old and new shown throughout this movie is what makes La La Land truly unique, and is where Damien Chazelle completely succeeds as a director. Whether it be the old-fashioned, gentile show tunes being used to reflect contemporary attitudes or the film’s realistic, bittersweet representation of love, Chazelle manages to create the perfect blend of nostalgia and originality.

That’s not to say that the film is perfect, however, and whilst it’s beautiful to look at, the somewhat drawn out narrative does mean that its occasionally hard to stay interested. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with the story itself, we are given several scenes that are completely unnecessary, particularly during the film’s first act, which only serve to drag out what would otherwise be an perfect film. However, Chazelle makes up for these more self-indulgent moments through his use of music and dance, which are not only essential to the plot, but further show the exceptional talent employed in the making of this film. Indeed, the finale will probably go down as one of the greatest moments in cinematic history, and La La Land is worthy of the Best Picture Oscar on those last ten minutes alone!

Despite its flaws, La La Land is a masterpiece unlike anything that’s been seen in cinemas for decades. Not only is it almost certain to sweep up every award, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts a new trend of cinematic musicals. Like what 2011’s The Artist did for silent film, La La Land honours the tropes set by Hollywood musicals of the forties and fifties, whilst bringing the genre into the twenty-first century, for a brand new audience.

La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle is distributed by Lionsgate Films UK. Certificate 12A.

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