‘La La Land’ is a funny, romantic and a heartfelt musical. For a film that starts off with what could be described as a cringe worthy song, it quickly turns itself round to produce a film full of passion and ambition.
The movie opens with one of the most bizarre sequences: a musical number, set in the middle of busy traffic jam, along a huge stretch of a crowded L.A highway. The extravagant song-and-dance musical, set in Los Angeles, is about an aspiring actress called Mia, played by Emma Stone and a jazz musician, Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling who are both trying to develop their careers.
They are first introduced in the initial scene among the freeway drivers, with Sebastian issuing a few angry honks on the horn. The pair meet again as Mia is standing alone, isolated on the street, until she hears a soft sound of a piano and heads into the bar from where the music is coming from. The visual fades to darkness with a spotlight pinned on her as she lays her eyes on him, moved by his talent.
They reunite at a pool party where Mia teases Sebastian, who is playing synth-keyboards in a tacky 80’s cover band. At this point, it is the first time we hear the pairs love theme (City of Stars). The pair warm to each other and grow close throughout the film, however, the tension between desire and love is presented through the two characters who try very hard to make things work romantically but have a deep passion for their chosen careers.
Like all movies, there needs to be an obstacle – the couple end things but Sebastian emphasises that Mia must devote herself to her career. The sparkling fantasy and heartfelt story portrays that the drive for professional success seems to be more realistic and idealistic than the pursuit of a ‘happily ever after’ tale.
Starring in their third film together, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s natural chemistry shines through enabling them to create a dynamic due on screen. As well as creating something that is nostalgic, Damien Chazelle has created a musical, which is current, timeless and has a great sense of adventure.