La La Land – Film Review

Ever since Damien Chazelle, who captured hearts with “Whiplash,” announced his new film, “La La Land” had been eagerly anticipated. Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the film is centered around music, much like his previous work, but this time, the focus is not only on playing music but also on dancing. “Whiplash” had a brilliant script and J.K. Simmons’ performance that kept the audience on edge, and “La La Land” is not a tense or infuriating film like “Whiplash.” It’s a bit of a ballad, a dash of romance, an occasional musical, and overall, a genuine piece of work. If you have an affection for cinema, there’s not a single reason not to love “La La Land.” “La La Land” is cinema itself.

Related Article  Whiplash - Film Review

Let’s briefly touch upon the plot. Mia (Emma Stone) is an ambitious young woman working as a barista in Hollywood studios, pursuing her dream of becoming an actress through auditions. However, her auditions don’t go as planned, leading to disappointing outcomes each time. One day, feeling disheartened, she hears a piano playing in a restaurant along the way and steps inside. At the piano is Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a man who wants to open a jazz club but finds himself working in places he never wanted to because he lacks the money. The chance encounter between the initially incompatible Mia and Sebastian doesn’t take off, but coincidences keep occurring, and life repeatedly brings them together. Gradually, the two connect, fueling each other’s ambitions and embarking on a journey towards their dreams.

Damien Chazelle grabs the audience’s attention right from the start with a splendid opening, a rarity in which an opening sequence pleased even me, someone who isn’t particularly fond of musicals. Especially the finale of “Grease” was wonderful.

“The man who, once in his life, has betrayed his principles, loses his true relationship with life.”
– Andrey Tarkovsky

Tarkovsky’s quote is quite inaccurate. Nowadays, many films are built on the foundations of this sentence. Tarkovsky is mistaken because success in life isn’t achieved without compromising, without betraying oneself on several occasions. “La La Land” narrates with a musical tone that to achieve your dreams, you have to compromise. Sebastian, although highly dedicated to his dream of opening a jazz club, is forced to accept jobs where he plays simple melodies instead of jazz. For instance, “Jingle Bells.” Sebastian, as ambitious as he is to chase his dreams, is eventually someone who, despite not wanting to, must say “yes” to work he doesn’t desire. It’s more accurate to say he has to. Mia, on the other hand, is not as ambitious as Sebastian. However, she ventures into things she never considered due to Sebastian’s encouragement.

Related Article  Best Movies of 2016

Despite being such a fictional story, “La La Land” progresses with a realistic attitude. The film’s success, in my opinion, is largely due to this: Realism. The story, at times, adopts a fairytale musical quality, but reality consistently prevails. The film’s finale, particularly, masterfully ties up the bitter realities of life that invariably burst forth from under the seams of romantic stories and curtains. Though fairytales and the fictional worlds of musicals may offer us love stories that end happily, life, unfortunately, isn’t a construct that we can manipulate. Mia and Sebastian’s success, in spite of everything and their failure to accomplish it together, is the most striking choice for the film’s culmination. Time is passing. Despite relentlessly chasing their dreams, Mia and Sebastian reach what they desire, but relationships are tougher than careers. “La La Land” uses a few drops of tears to vividly remind us of this harsh reality in the final scene.

“La La Land” has the power to touch the heart with its story alone, and Damien Chazelle embellishes his striking narrative with impeccable technical artistry. The film’s editing and, especially, its lighting convey the illusionary quality effectively. When the director’s fast camera movements, intimate shots, colorful sets, and romantic dances come together, even someone like me, who doesn’t particularly care for music, can fall in love with the film.

There’s one thing that caught my attention in the film, although it’s an unnecessary detail: the use of nicknames that referred to people who passed away this year. Ryan Gosling’s character is referred to as “Muhammad Ali,” and Mia is referred to as “George Michael.” Unfortunately, both of these names passed away this year.

Related Article  Babylon - Film Review

In conclusion, “La La Land” tells the story of two unsuccessful people with dreams, holding on to each other’s hopes. However, the realities of life interfere with their path over time, leading them in different directions. We watch their journey up to the point of separation through Damien Chazelle’s nearly-perfect design. The film, which also features John Legend, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful films of 2016, maybe the best. If you love cinema, you will undoubtedly leave “La La Land” with a smile on your face. It’s a film that makes you smile, gets you into the rhythm, engages you with the characters – a successful film. Damien Chazelle deserves to be congratulated for creating such a film. It’s been a while since we’ve seen such a beautiful film in theaters.

Cast & Crew

director: Damien Chazelle

writers: Damien Chazelle

starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons

USA – Hong Kong | 2016 | 129 MINUTES |


Ukrainian Creative Director | Motion Picture Writer | Horror Freak

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *