From start to finish, I escaped into a world of musical madness – random outbursts of song on a vehicle highway, spontaneous tap dance sequences overlooking scenes of Los Angeles and most importantly, a hard-hitting, authentic display of humanity. If you love musicals, there is no need for me to try and convince you with this review that La La Land will electrify your eyes, ears and mind. However, for the musical-theatre cynics who are sceptical, already writing this movie off as another overrated, try-hard car crash…I implore you to give it a chance- La La Land might just surprise you.
The film blended a classic love story with the fabulous concept of serendipity- showing us how the chance encounters of the two main characters (Gosling and Stone) shaped their entire future. Simultaneously, musical fans were given everything they could ever want – dances choreographed to perfection and memorable musical numbers that tickled our humour, encouraged our thoughts, ignited our imaginations and broke our hearts.
As we watched Stone persevere through rejection after rejection on her journey to fulfil the stereotypical LA dream of conquering Hollywood, we saw Gosling struggle with his desire to resurrect traditional Jazz. Their developing relationship is romanticised as relationships are in every movie we watch, with montages of laughing, holding hands etc (you know the drill). Yet, we also saw the raw authenticity that audiences are craving more and more in the 21st century, so much so that at times it almost felt intrusive. Silence is something we don’t get enough of in movies; there is always background music or special effects taking our breath away. La La Land brought back silence. These silences made up a lot of time in the scenes where Gosling and Stone felt their lives beginning to clash rather than run smoothly side by side. The silences were so powerful that they served just like the outrageous special effects that are so common in motion pictures today, keeping us on the edge of our seats and completely engrossed.
I think the blend of the incredibly real and the unbelievably bizarre elements is really what has made this film such a success. It pulls at the heartstrings by reintroducing concepts from the old movie musicals like Singing In The Rain, giving it a strong sentiment, a beautiful purpose; while at the same time, focussing on an authentic reality, concentrating on two artists whose lives intertwine in the most important years of their existence.
Yes Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are not professional singers or dancers and this most definitely has frustrated many. However I think the lack of intense training and raw emotion behind their expression of song and movement in La La Land made my hairs stand on edge even more fervently than they would have done had the actors been incredibly skilled in these fields.
I cannot guarantee that everyone reading this will love the film as I do. I ask that if you decide to give it a chance, you don’t just appreciate the blend of influences and styles La La Land celebrates, but the message it sends when we peel back its layers. The movie celebrates people, more specifically – the dreams that belong to people. Within a montage of art, visual and audible, is an encouraging toast …..
“Here’s to the ones who dream,
Foolish as they may seem,
Here’s to the hearts that ache,
Here’s to the mess we make”