Have you ever felt like you’re floating on the highs of a simply exquisite and wondrous cinematic experience that you simply cannot get out of your head? Has there ever been a film that captures the very essence of why you love cinema so much? La La Land encapsulates those very notions for this particular cinemagoer in a blitz of musical and emotional flurries that are simply undeniable, and already make it the movie to beat for 2017. And that is certainly not an exaggeration.
Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to the hugely successful Whiplash takes us far away from the life of a fame-hungry jazz drummer to the more romantic and classic feel of old school Hollywood and the glitzy days of Rogers and Astaire. In their modern day place are Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, both their respective characters lusting for that break in a career that will see them within the dreams they’ve always though long and hard about. Gosling’s Sebastian a jazz pianist looking to one day open up his own jazz club, while Stone’s Mia seeks that breakthrough audition that will see her headlining her own show or film.
As the pair soon find out, among the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles there are challenges and obstacles, not only in their search for the big dream but also once their romance blossoms and they have to balance what it is they really want the most.
Director Damien Chazelle lives and breathes cinema and music: here is a man who captivated audiences with a movie predominantly focused on jazz – a music genre that had been considered a dying art – and yet this twenty-something made it both accessible and enthralling to witness in one clean swoop. Hence the anticipation levels for his second feature, which once again showcases his unique expertise, love and adoration for the craft of combining the two.
La La Land is quite simply musical and cinematic euphoria bottled up in one majestic and dreamy concoction that will leave you floating in the clouds soon after you exit the cinema and make your way back to reality. Chazelle knows how to connect with his audience and, with the stunning chemistry simmering on screen between leading duo Stone and Gosling he already has a winning combination to add to the overall formula. Gosling shines with his charisma and sleek look, while Stone mesmerises with her angelic voice and cheeky dialogue. It’s a match made in heaven for making starstruck lovers and combines with Chazelle’s mastery like a fish to water.
It’s instantly clear that such a film is going to coax you in when the first musical number hits. ‘Another Day Of Sun’ presents a first for any film – a traffic jam you actually wouldn’t mind finding yourself within – and the songs don’t let up from there. The catchy ‘Someone In The Crowd’ represents anyone who has ever been ready for a night out on the town (ever) and the likes of ‘Audition’ and ‘City Of Stars’ showcase the more tender and heartfelt of scenes within the movie.
Visually, La La Land is a beautiful sight to behold, with its colourful pallet reminiscent of the classic days of the MGM musicals on which much of the foundations of the movie are built. From the musical numbers that ooze the most exquisite of colours, to the poignant and romantic sequences in which we are literally transported into a world where you can dance within the stars, there are so many standout scenes in which Chazelle creates a heavenly picture of this blossoming romance. The director’s sheer awareness of mixing classic with modern day visuals is a delight to behold and makes it a film that will be heralded as a new-age classic.
La La Land is majestic cinema at its very best, presenting a wonderful combination of dream-like cinematography, unforgettable music and a core narrative that will pull at the heart strings as much as it will have you wanting to dance in the aisles. Chazelle’s direction is nothing short of inch-perfect, Stone and Gosling simply sizzle, and the other movies involved in the Oscar race tremble in fear as the contender for 2017’s most outstanding motion picture makes itself known.
La La Land is out in UK cinemas on 12th January.