• Guy Jeffries

La La Land Review


Director: Damien Chazelle.

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, Finn Wittrock, Callie Hernandez.

There is so much to say about this movie musical, even without giving anything away. Just looking at my after notes, it's already loaded with comments and details telling me this is going to be a larger than normal post. (Possibly exceeding the IMDb word count of a thousand) let's see.

Damien Chazelle does it again, firstly where he bashed my head in with a drumstick or two with 2014's Whiplash, which was so intense, it had me sweating in the cinema. Twice. I had to watch it again the very next day and wasn't any less sweaty the second time round. An absolute masterpiece.

Now, Chazelle might be considered to be on the young side of being an accomplished director, La La Land being born during his senior year at Harvard University in 2010, along side friend and musical writer Justin Hurwitz, but with a smaller budget and compromising script demands, the idea was shelved, until, the successful Whiplash received such high acclaim, they got granted a budget 30 times larger than the previous, and freedom with their own script and screenplay.

Chazelle again, displays his absolutely, stunning, visual brilliance whilst tilting the hat to classic cinema and musicals like Casablanca, Funny Face and The Red Balloon. Having been to L.A. countless of times, I find it to be my less favourite of the American cities I've been to, but, Chazelle manages to add a glossy, vibrant veil over the top that's inspired me with a new appreciation for the city. I still find it incredible and slightly unbelievable, but in a good way, that he's managed to take a modern, bustling and dirty city and still make it feel retro and vintage using abstract cinematography, like creating its very own time zone altogether. He even opens using the original 20th Century Fox logo and the fade out focuses make you feel like you're watching a theatre play.

There's a long list of scenes that stay with you because of this style and of course, being a musical, Chazelle honours the classic musical methods with astonishing and exuberant long takes that makes your smile stretch from seat 1 to 20. The opening scene alone is a tremendous feat with epic cinematography and beautiful imagery. I could dissect the whole movie, recounting each joyful and pleasant scene by scene, but it's truly something that has to be marvelled at by seeing and not reading.

The story is about a turbulent romance between Seb, (Ryan Gosling), a confident, proud and passionate pianist those ambitions sits with having his very own jazz club; and Mia, (Emma Stone) a struggling, aspiring actress trying to make her way in the superficial Hollywood. The cars they drive is a sweet analogy of their characters in way, Seb driving a classic '82 Buick Riviera and Mia driving a Prius. It must be familiar ground for both, playing aspiring performing artists such as they are in real life. Apparently the auditioning scenes which are torturous, were drawn from both star's actually experiences in auditioning.

The chemistry between the two is as always, perfect. This being their third outing after Gangster Squad and Stupid, Crazy, Love. Gosling oozes a certain coolness but with quite the finazz of confident arrogance. Whilst Stone appears vulnerable, reserved and bashful but what's simmering is an audacious, creative and inspiring woman. It's so well balanced and enriched by both, you could be forgiven for forgetting John Legend is in the movie.

Chazelle and Hurwitz love of Jazz shines through just like it did with Whiplash, now I know I keep referencing Whiplash, but please note, these are two very different films, which make this all the more impressive. It's the similarities such as the music being very much a subject matter to both films. I'm no expert but I'm a lover of Jazz too, and this soundtrack itself is utterly amazing, infectious and makes the heart glow with instantly recognisable tracks like "Someone In The Crowd", "City of Stars" and "A Lovely Night." Justin Hurwitz composes a mesmerising, enchanting musical that reminds me of sitting in Ronnie Scott's and has me weaving in and out of traffic whilst listening to the songs in the car.

Gosling and Stone perform the songs and dances excellently, displaying a gracefulness that would make any non-musical fan a lover and a dancer. The choreography is majestic throughout, especially the two scenes at Griffin Park/Observatory, the tap dancing in particular. Gosling actually learning to play the piano for his parts entirely says a lot about him as a star and as an actor, getting the emotion to come through.

The whole production is flawless and as I've said before, this zesty imagery is made up dazzling costume designs, great atmospheric sets and masterful use of lighting. The dresses Mia wears set against the plots she's on is just eye-candy and Seb's shoes! I want a pair of those shoes!

Have you ever watched a film and thought it was a personally message to you, sent from the cosmos, whether it be a dig or a reminder. The conclusion certainly hit a few chords on my heartstrings, bringing a tear to my eye, it's the perfect ending to a glorious movie. It's only shame is not having enough song and dance, but it a good thing to leave wanting more, and the film already has a runtime of 128mins.

As always, I haven't read any reviews but from what I can gather from the quotable taglines they are awarding the film with, they're absolutely right, it really is what everyone is saying. A dazzling, delightful masterpiece, that's amazingly good for the soul, heartfelt and a prefect blend of modern and vintage style. [edit] Being nominated for 14 Oscars, 11 BAFTA awards and won 7 Golden Globes should speaks volumes. I was totally swept off my feet and urge everyone to watch this film, at least twice.

Running Time: 9

The Cast: 10

Performance: 9

Direction: 10

Story: 10

Script: 10

Creativity: 10

Soundtrack: 10

Job Description: 10

The Extra Bonus Point: 10 For being a perfect musical to a dazzling and epic degree.

Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Definitely!

98% 10/10

#DamienChazelle #JustinHurwitz #RyanGosling #EmmaStone #JKSimmons #JohnLegend #RosemarieDeWitt #FinnWittrock #CallieHernandez #JessicaRothe #SonoyoMizuno