La La Land FILM REVIEW

It’s not only an ode to the Golden Age of Hollywood musicals, but a film with a message about the power of love, reckons DHAYANA SENA.

 

LA LA LAND may not be a masterpiece of film-making, but it might just be the most convincing old-style motion picture to grace our screens since Jurassic-era classics Singin’ In The Rain and Casablanca.  

La La Land is a newly released romantic musical, directed by Damien Chazelle, which reunites Crazy, Stupid, Love co-stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as Sebastian and Mia, two highly opinionated and motivated individuals, each struggling with their own pursuits when fate brings them together.

The film begins with a summer camp-like musical number, which lulls viewers into a state of blissful unawareness as we easily fall into the trap of assuming the film as nothing more than a simple romantic musical right from the get-go. The setup of the opening number fools us into believing the film to be a typical cheery film with little to no substantial conflict. How wrong we are.

La La Land is in no way a simple film. With a narrative that effectuates a roller-coaster of emotions, along with brilliant performances by Gosling and Stone, La La Land captivates in a way that’s rare in modern cinema.

The film is unique in its effective combination of the classical and the modern. From music, costumes and settings, La La Land does a fantastic job of showing off the vibrant and colourful lifestyle of the pre-1950s era, while maintaining modernism and present-day struggles. The direction of the film is straightforward with a seamless mix of old and new, which in no way impacts the ‘reality’ of the world within La La Land. Both lead characters exhibit a love for the vintage through their passions for music and film, and this is evident throughout by way of retro film posters and art surrounding Mia’s living quarters, and the inclusion of cool jazz in the places in which Sebastian frequents.

Character development is phenomenal. With only two characters to focus on throughout the film, viewers are given the opportunity to truly understand Sebastian and Mia as individuals and as a couple as well. It’s extremely gratifying to feel a kinship with these characters and truly grasp the motivations behind their actions. We inevitably end up investing a small part of ourselves with these characters, which makes for a much more enjoyable film experience.

The title of the film perfectly describes the magical journey we are taken on as both Gosling and Stone whisk us into a dream-like fantasy world, where everything is perfectly peaceful and beautiful, showing us that love might just conquer all. Deep in our very core, most of us long for a partner who cherishes us for who we are; who supports us through thick and thin; who brings out the very best in us; and who, despite all odds, loves us. Mia and Sebastian not only show us the value of dreams but also the kind of love we all desire.

Almost as quickly as the film calms viewers with its happy facade, we are thrust into a world of inner turmoil as the characters are forced to choose between their love for each other and their career aspirations. The resulting conflict is gut-wrenchingly heartbreaking as the pair we are ultimately rooting for, struggle to juggle a successful relationship with their respective careers and dreams. The result is beautifully bittersweet and one that, once again, is masterfully crafted by the creative minds behind the film.

While the film is gratifying through a fantastic story and superb acting, the combination of foot-tapping music and stunning visuals adds to the film’s charm. In fact, this reviewer rushed out and bought the soundtrack, and spent the following week with a great compulsion to sing along to its songs.

La La Land is a magnificent film that stands to take its place among the pantheon of Golden Age Hollywood musicals, but more than anything else, it is a film that teaches us about the power of love and the tough choices, and sacrifices, we make in order to keep it. DHAYANA SENA

 

* This review was first published on www.thevanguardsite.com

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