La La Land // Film Review

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La La Land

Director: Damien Chazelle

Released: 2016

Rating: ★★★★✩

 

I LOVED this film. It hasn’t become one of my favourite musicals but nonetheless it was such a beautifully crafted film. The soundtrack was so good, the songs were so delicate and together with the beautiful scenes it was really hard not to leave the cinema almost entirely speechless, apart from to say “That was incredible!”. Over the next day I couldn’t stop thinking about certain parts of the film which led me down a road of just endless La La Land inspired thoughts.

So what did I like about the film: the musical numbers, the relationships between the characters, how the film presents being an artist and the harsh, yet raw true-to-life themes that the film explores. I absolutely love that this film itself is a piece of art: the whole film, from the cinematography, the songs and the music and the dances, which have all been intricately thought out and placed together to form this artwork that is La La Land.

The film itself is following two characters, Mia (Emma Stone) and Seb (Ryan Gosling) in their pursuit for happiness, success and love; Mia an aspiring actress and Seb an aspiring Jazz musician both singing and dancing through their experiences. Firstly, I found the song ‘City of Stars’ incredibly beautiful and possibly the most memorable song in the entire film. Especially when Ryan Gosling and  Emma Stone are sitting by the piano singing together, Ryan’s deep, sombre voice complimenting Emma’s sweet, light voice. The song itself is lyrically such an amazing song, about achieving your dreams and coming to terms with where you are in your life even though you still don’t know everything or what the future will hold. The song itself is so hopeful and I can’t stop listening to it.

In terms of dance sequences, the one during ‘A Lovely Night’ which Mia and Seb perform on the hill by the bench, overlooking the city was my favourite. It’s such a conflicting moment: the song speaks of how Mia and Seb will never get along or even fall in love with each other – a state of disconnection. However, and this is the bit that I loved, the dance that they both perform to this song was so in sync and flowed so smoothly, so heavily contrasting with the words being sung. I also really liked the dance in the opening song as it such a feel good song and the dancing was so carefree. One thing I would say about the opening sequence though was that it just felt kind of underwhelming, it was very quiet and even during the chorus the singing seemed quite restrained. However the dance routines that during this song completely make up for the lack of energy that the song seems to have, people getting out of their cars, dancing together, jumping on to car bonnets. I just wish that this film would have had a louder, more emphatic opening number.

One aspect that I have very mixed feelings about is the character of Mia,Mia is such a strong and independent character who persists, and struggles, in trying to achieve her dreams. Mia attends interview after interview, that seem to be merely obstacles that prevent her from securing a job in acting. Seb also struggles in trying to achieve his goal of becoming a jazz musician and being able to live off that sole profession, however we see a further extent of his efforts, his compromise when he performs in bars that he doesn’t necessarily agree with until he manages to work his way up to a position where he enjoys what he is doing. In contrast, Mia even manages to write HER OWN ONE WOMAN SHOW (!!!) the audience doesn’t see any of this work, we’re just told that it didn’t succeed. We don’t see any type of progression at all for her, we’re just constantly reminded of her lack of success instead of her her talent she uses to improve and achieve what she wants in life. I feel like the film was definitely lacking in respect to Mia’s achievements and her role as an actress, it just seemed heavily dominated by Seb’s achievements.

Lastly possibly my favourite moment of the film was the final scene, it was such a bitter sweet way to end such a beautiful film. I really appreciated how it gave the audience a glimpse of what could have been, if Seb and Mia stayed together, portraying a happy loving relationship against the twinkliest of music pieces, the tone changing during certain aspects of what is being portrayed. At the end the piece changes into a minor key and the sad elements of the film are also presented, the reality of what has actually happened, which in contrast is a disappointment to the audience after watching everything Seb and Mia have been through the entirety of the film. Although the thing that really completed this scene was once the sad music finished, Seb and Mia look at each other, realising everything that they don’t have because they aren’t together but yet they still smile at each other, an acceptance for what their lives are now and it’s just such a beautiful concept even though it is so DEVASTATINGLY SAD!

I would definitely watch this film again, I’ve already listened to the soundtrack multiple times but again I did have my reservations about certain aspects of the film.

 

Beth Morley

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