Yes, I’m naturally a soppy melancholic and I used to watch a lot of rom-coms and dramas, but I have moved on. I don’t like being emotionally manipulated and I would turn off if the story lines are way too predictable and try hard to rouse emotions. Well, after watching La La Land, I quickly went on my iPhone to buy the soundrack so I could relive the emotions and enjoy the music again. It’s that good. The movie is effervescent, joyous yet poignant, simple and yet thought-provoking.
So why do I like it so much?
La La Land is an homage to the world of cinema and music, especially jazz – two of the many things that I enjoy a lot. The movie tells a story of Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), two struggling dreamers who find out that the path to realising their dreams have many roadblocks. It’s a simple story of boy-meets-girl that is packaged so beautifully and so enjoyably. The conversations flow so naturally and there is a natural chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling that helps a lot with the story. They are so perfectly cast for the roles – I learned afterwards that Ryan Gosling took the task of learning to play the piano well also, as there was no escaping from the long-takes in the movie. The production is also top-notch with the team behind the movie providing visual feasts to complement the music: the usage of primary colours at the beginning of the movie when the movie opens and when we are introduced to Mia and her housemates automatically put you on a great mood. I was smiling for pretty much the first ten, fifteen minutes of the movie. Some of the scenes were so well staged as well, that the snapshots would make great lounge-room stills.
The music is beautifully composed by Justin Hurwitz, and those sung by Stone or by Gosling are also perfect in their ‘down-to-earthness’ and believability. Their voice may not rival seasoned singers, but the tone and the manner in which they sing the songs make the songs very endearing. I’ve touched on the visual and the musical aspects of the movie, now with the direction. It is clear that Damien Chazelle has a passion for jazz – his previous movie Whiplash (which I sadly haven’t seen) gave the first indication – followed by La La Land that pretty much also provides a case to preserve and grow the love of jazz. There is also a bonus – with John Legend playing a supporting role in the movie, and providing a reason why musicians may need to conform to the current trend, for self-preservation of the music as well.
La La Land may not be perfect – for the real critics, they can probably poke and prod and find faults in the storyline, direction, the music, the acting and the delivery. However, when something is so enjoyable with a heart on its sleeve, you accentuate the positives and forgive the negatives. It’s like spending an afternoon with your closest friends. You know they’re not perfect but you love them dearly nevertheless. The movie has a poignant ending – and I appreciate La La Land more for not providing us with a straightforward happy ending. The movie serves as a reminder that to reach one’s dreams and success, something’s gotta give. It’s just sometimes this also includes the people who we love most.
I can’t wait for the stage version already!