Movie Review: La La Land
With the release of La La Land this week, it only seemed appropriate to finally review this Academy Award winning film. While it may not have won Best Picture, it did walk away with Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Music Score, Best Actress, and Best Production Design. After a lot of love following it’s release, it also received a lot of backlash as time went on. No matter how many remarks were made, though, it cannot be denied that La La Land is a beautiful film. Director Damien Chazelle has an eye for sweeping shots of the Los Angeles skyline, and this picture is a beautiful homage to a brand of musicals and storytelling that harkens back to Hollywood’s roots.
The film follows Mia, portrayed by Emma Stone, and Sebastian, portrayed by Ryan Gosling. Mia is an aspiring actress who we see struggle with working at a coffee shop on a studio lot while enduring the painful cycle of auditions and rejection. Sebastian is a slightly embittered jazz musician who dreams of opening his own jazz club but takes on odd jobs in the meantime. Of course, their paths cross, and once they do, their relationship enriches each of their lives. He encourages her; she encourages him. Mia pursues writing a one-woman show while Sebastian leads her to a love of jazz while playing in a band. Of course, bumps in the road occur for each along the way, and by the end of the film, they face the decision that I believe all artistic types must confront. They each must decide whether their dreams are still worth pursuing, and they face that defining moment of whether to persevere or to throw in the towel. In this same vein, they must also decide if their relationship is worth pursuing.
La La Land ultimately has a small cast, but you don’t notice with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling lighting the screen. Stone and Gosling have starred together in other films such as Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad, so it’s no surprise that they managed to maintain that chemistry in this story as well. Couple that with some stunning dialogue, a beautifully crafted story, and some beautiful yet imperfect choreography, and you end up with the moving story that is La La Land.
At the end of the day, this is the story and struggle of many who pursue the bright lights of Hollywood. The truth is that this story reaches beyond struggling musicians and aspiring actresses. This is the story of dreamers and all who fight to do what they’re passionate about. It’s a story of love, yes, but also of hard work and sacrifice and perseverance. It’s a story with a universal theme, but it thankfully manages to throw some laughs, gorgeous scenery, and memorable melodies along the way. La La Land is one of the standouts in film for 2016, and I hope you check out this story of two people stumbling to find their way like the rest of us.