Monday, 30 January 2017

'La La Land' Film Review

This review WILL contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, and are either planning to or want to, don’t read on. I think you’ll enjoy the film more if you’ve read no reviews and know quite little about it. 


I saw La La Land a few days ago and after hearing from friends and the media about how great it was, I wanted to see whether all the hype was worth it, because – let’s face it – so many things get attention for about a week or so and then fade out and you never really hear of them again. But, oh my goodness ‘La La Land’ deserves every single damn one of its 14 Oscar Nominations.

The first scene was set when we see trails and trails of cars stuck in a monotonous traffic jam. One of the drivers decides not to simply let boredom get the hold of her, but to begin a song and dance number outside her car where she is joined by the many other drivers (and passengers) in what follows to be a beautifully choreographed and arranged scene. At first, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy the film, because although it was such an uplifting and happy scene, I was worried that it could be heavily populated with frequent song-and-dance numbers. Often in a film, these can appear quite unrelated to the storyline and are quite cheesy, which although I don’t mind, I don’t always love either. However, in ‘La La Land’ these scenes were executed brilliantly and fitted the storyline so perfectly that it never felt out of place or unnatural. As the story progressed, I decided that I loved it, and then the level at which I loved it grew and grew.

Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) meet coincidentally multiple times and form a friendship through their common ambition to achieve their dreams. Mia is an aspiring actress who frequently attends auditions whenever she can, although has never been offered a part. Sebastian dreams of opening his own Jazz Club, however sees few options so makes a living playing music even though it is not the style he so loves.

‘La La Land’ could be categorised as a Musical or a Romance however it is so much more than either of those. It doesn’t particularly fit any category except its own. Despite the many songs, it is not in any way a typical musical, because the way in which the characters ‘burst’ into song is not cheesy but instead eloquent and stunning. It fits so well with the theme of the story and so I couldn’t help but love it.

The ending, however, is the most perfect bit of the whole film. One of my friends said that when she went to see it, she didn't like the ending but to me, it was so phenomenally powerful. Now, I’m a very ‘over-emotional’ person, and I cry at a lot of different films. But I didn’t cry at this film. I cried at the end, after having had to take a couple of minutes to take everything in. The credits were already rolling and then the tears came and wouldn’t stop for a few more minutes. The what-could-have-been scene made me feel so overwhelmed with an entirely new emotion that I’ve never felt before. The scene was both utterly heart-breaking yet utterly gorgeous. When Mia imagines what her life could have been, I found myself hoping that it did in fact turn out to be the reality, but then I realised that the whole moral was that it didn’t need to have happened. The two characters had put so much love into their relationship with each other and their relationship with their dreams, that it did not matter that they didn’t end up together. What did matter was how much they learnt and grew from each other in a way that they wouldn’t have been able to do individually. The look that they give each other in the final seconds of the film was so meaningful; it was full of so much thanks and love for the fact that without each other, neither of them would have been able to achieve their dreams. The romantic love between them of course was important, but the love in that final look felt so much deeper and more loving than their romantic relationship which felt so much more special.

The music in this film is undeniably exquisite. Jazz may not be to everybody’s taste, and I didn’t think it was to mine, but every second of the film’s musicality is stunning. I have been listening to the soundtrack all weekend and have happily endured having multiple of the songs ‘stuck’ in my head. The epilogue piece is my favourite as it’s a compilation of a variety of the pieces of music from throughout the film. City of Stars is such a sleek and effortlessly cool song and so wonderful to listen to, along with every single one of the pieces from the soundtrack.

Every element of the film was wonderful; the story, the way it was told, the music, the characters, the love, happiness and the morals. It deserves to break records at the Oscars this year, and judging by its performance at awards ceremonies and the critical reception it’s already received, it’s looking likely to do so.

This film is a masterpiece.