La La Land [Review]

In a Hollywood that is struggling to bring to the screens any original ideas, La La Land, written and directed by Damien Chazelle, recreates that magical atmosphere that only classical old movies did in the 1940s, adding a special spark to them thanks to a triumph of colours and a renovated respect and love for Jazz music.

The narrative is quite linear and simple. The whole plot revolves around Mia and Sebastian’s story and it follows them through the first year of their relationship. Both Mia and Sebastian have dreams for their futures, she is a barista who wants to write a script for a one woman show and fulfil her desire to become an actress in LA, while Sebastian is a pianist who venerates Jazz music and wants to open a club entirely dedicated to celebrate this genre by playing it live for his patrons.

From the first date, to their first fight, their love story becomes the background of their journey together to learn that no matter what, they should never forget their final goals and that the most important thing is to never give up when it becomes hard and their dreams seem so far away and impossible to achieve.

While it might seem that this story has been told too many times already, what makes La La Land special is the way in which Chazelle made it unique by turning it into a musical that celebrates both music and dance. The opening scene is something special that came out of the most amazing musical and with brilliant colours, talented dancers and a great soundtrack, the story comes to life with a special spark.

It is precisely the vibrant tones employed in each scene that make this movie a feast for the eyes. From the costume to the locations, everything is covered by some sort of magical glaze that makes the shades rich and warm with that specific quality that reminds of the first coloured movie. Deep blue, red and bright yellow are the tonality used more often and they help create and build the romantic and nostalgic mood of the movie.

Two more aspects that are employed to set up the emotional connection between the story and the audience are the incredible music and the majestic choreographies created by Justin Hurwitz and Mandy Moore. Chazelle already proved his love for music and Jazz in the acclaimed Whiplash and this time, with Hurwitz help, he doesn’t only celebrates this particular style, it uses it to celebrate the Hollywood of the past, during its golden age, that, with easiness, was able to tell lighthearted stories that would move the audience to tears for their simplicity.

Deeply intertwined with the acted scenes in a well balanced flow, the musical aspect of the movie doesn’t diminish its power to showcase the soul of the story, on the contrary, it brings it to the surface, making the film even more entertaining and enjoyable, giving the chance to the actors to showcase their many talents while at the same time build a strong connection with the audience.

Between panoramic shots and the breathtaking closeups of the main actors, La La Land is an outpouring of emotional as well as well-balanced comic and sarcastic scenes that, along with the fast paced music, give to the film a pressing rhythm that makes the running time fly by.

The cast ensemble did a phenomenal job in bringing to life the complex dancing numbers as well as their characters. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling once again used their formidable chemistry, already proved in past projects, to make Mia and Sebastian’s love story even more believable. Both of them show their raw and all around talent in every scene, especially during the dancing choreographies. Their commitment to their roles makes it extremely easy for the audience to create an emotional bond with them and be completely invested in their story.

All in all, La La Land is Chazelle’s love letter to Hollywood’s Golden age. A movie that celebrates  the past by marrying it with the future and harmonising them together with an explosion of colours and perfect comedy timing.

 La La Land is out now in cinemas across the UK.



Federica Roberti