Review : La La Land by Jonathan Evans

 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

La La Land is a movie that uses the same old tools from the classic musicals of old, like Singin in the Rain, Funny Face, My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins, but is used by a man from modern times and sensibilities.

Damien Chezelle has an obvious passion for jazz music and about perusing dreams despite all the obstacles. Here, like his last movie Whiplash, he crafts a similar story where two people live in L.A. where dreams can come true, but not easily.

Our characters are Mia (Emma Stone), a young actress that is working at a coffee shop at the Warner Bros. lot but wants to be an actor. She auditions for many things but nothing. Then there is Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a musician that loves Jazz more than just about anything, worshiping the greats and hating having to simply play the mediocre tunes he’s given for his job. He wants to open his own jazz club where the classics and his own music will be played, in the same venue that was once a legendary jazz bar. But they both must face the reality of compromising in the real world and the sadness that maybe their either not good enough or nobody cares about what they want. Stone and Gosling work together splendidly, from dialog scenes that are as dynamic as Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday and the low-key but cute choreography. The characters are brilliant concepts and the actors make them realized.

The songs are composed in the same vein as the classic Hollywood/Broadway numbers but the singing never reaches that truly glass shattering volume. This is a more subdued musical style. Most of them aren’t meant for that, they’re more like little tunes you hum to yourself while walking home all alone. The most haunting of them all is the main song of the movie “City of Stars” the simple tune will hook itself deep in your mind and not let go.

Channeling the movies of old it uses lush, glowing colours for its environments and the characters costumes. This movie is expertly lit and colour coordinated to fit the characters and their character arcs. There is a scene (whether deliberate or not) that reminded me of another similar scene from Adolescence of Utena.

La la is a term for the sightly crazy or obscene. Which is certainly L.A. in a nutshell, it is these characters facing the world with what they want and it is this movie that channels the old classics but both sets it in modern times as well as selling it to the now young. But in order to pursue your goals you must put aside reality, even just the most little bit and delve into your dreams.

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