‘La La Land’ (2017, 12A)

Does ‘La La Land’ deserve a song-and-dance made about it or is it far from music to my ears?

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress, auditioning for role after role in her breaks from work at a coffee shop on a film lot, while Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz musician, desperately trying to be heard as he scrapes together a living on his wages and tips from different bars, playing the piano. After a few chance encounters, the two meet and an unlikely relationship is struck as the two fall in love and go chasing after their dreams together.

This is definitely not my type of film; my perfect film would be a three-hour, sci-fi epic, leaving you with more questions than answers and something which really makes you think. It’s safe to say ‘La La Land’ doesn’t tick any of these boxes, but, despite this, I found myself enjoying this film a lot more than I thought I would. I decided to watch this film purely based on the reviews it’s got from other critics and was pleasantly surprised with what I saw.

I think the biggest part of this film is the music — there are only a handful of songs, interspersed throughout the film, which I liked as it meant the film didn’t seem too overbearing with music and dance. However, what there was was absolutely fantastic, the songs keeping your toes tapping the entire way through and used in creative ways, not just as background to scenes but really fitting with the plot and story.

Another thing which stuck out for me was the cinematography in this film and the camera shots. Almost every scene was taken in long, moving shots, following the characters naturally as they go about their lives. One scene which sticks in my mind with this in a coffee shop where the main heroine, Mia, goes to leave the shop, followed by the camera beside her, realises sh’s left her phone on the counter, goes back, takes the phone and continues onwards. It’s such a small, insignificant scene but the camera work is just brilliant, and this continues throughout all the scenes, especially the big musical parts where it’s often just one, swooping camera rolling through the dancing and singing, capturing the joy of it all.

Part of this joy came from the two lead actors, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, who both gave outstanding performances in their roles. At first, I was a bit unsure of how comfortable Stone was with the singing and dancing in the film, but by the end, I was convinced she was the right actress for the role.

A final thing which impressed me with this film is its simplicity. This may seem a bit odd from someone who earlier said their ideal film ‘really made you think’, but that’s not the purpose of ‘La La Land’. Quite a lot of the film is completely impossible, including the setting, a sort of cross between modern Los Angeles and the city from the 1930s and 50s, something which is never acknowledged but is simply just how things are. Personally, I like this as it works with the tone and main moral of ‘La La Land’ — mixing the mundane and usual with something a bit more exciting and colourful.

Overall, ‘La La Land’ is a brilliant musical drama that deserves its great reviews and will earn from me a nine-out-of-ten.

9/10.

 

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