LA LA LAND is written and directed by award winning director Damien Chazelle whose 2014 film Whiplash was one of my favourite films of that year. This film features Emma Stone as Mia, an aspiring actress and Ryan Gosling as a jazz purist known as Sebastian.
A traffic jam on LA’s Judge Harry Pregerson interchange is the setting for the films ambitious opening number. A one take shot that features people climbing out of the cars in there droves to sing an optimistic anthem entitled Another Day of Sun.
Not only does it set the tone of the film but it also provides us with a meet cute between Mia and Sebastian. Both of them have aspirations of success but to begin with Mia is struggling with auditions and working at a coffee shop while Sebastian is restricted to playing set lists by shady bar owners. J.K. Simmons cameos as an owner of one such bar that draws our two main characters together.
Mia and Sebastian are drawn together and the montage of their summer in LA and them falling deeper in love was an absolute joy to watch. Even before they are a couple they have a great duet called A lovely Night which was full of humour and some incredible dance moves. Throughout the film you can’t help but think of classic Hollywood musicals such as Singin’ in the Rain.
The film also has a modern feel to it and the story of Mia and Sebastian feels relevant no matter where you come from. Sebastian encourages Mia to write her own roles and she in turn encourages his dream to open his own jazz club. However Sebastian wants to prove to Mia that he is not a flake and takes a job in a jazz-rock band led by John Legend who also cameos.
As Summer Turns to Autumn Mia and Seb find that there successes and there carers look like it will come between them. This film hints at the growing distance between the two of them, something that erupts in a brilliant scene where a surprise dinner spirals into a painful row about their future. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are phenomenal in this scene and the argument was as breathtaking as it was heartbreaking.
The songs were also pretty spectacular, City of Stars in particular was a marvellous duet between Mia and Seb. I also really liked Start a Fire as it showed a different side of jazz and the distance that was growing between them. Mia also has gives a great performance in her audition scene which features a lovely song called The Fools Who Dream, the song many people will know as it was the one from the trailer.
Winter soon comes and so does a time skip of five years which shows what becomes of our leads. Mia goes on to have a successful career and a family while Sebastian has finally got his club. One final chance encounter sees Mia turn up at Seb’s new bar just as he is about to play there theme song. A beautiful melody that reveals what their lives might have been like if things had just gone a different way.
La La Land is a film that calls back to the hey day of the Hollywood musical with brilliant performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. It also brings a modern twist with a great story and songs that are both memorable and very highly enjoyable to listen too.