By: Thomas Troyan
You don’t see many original musicals on the silver screen. Except for a Disney movie here or there, most musical films tend to just be adaptations of productions that originated on stage. La La Land however is a completely original musical from director Damien Chazelle, and it is a wonderful time. Chazelle has been trying to make La La Land a reality since 2010, and the success of his previous film, Whiplash, has finally granted him the funding needed to do so, and we should all be happy that it did.
La La Land tells the story Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz pianist trying to reignite interest in the genre, and Mia (Emma Stone), a barista who also aspires to be an actress going from audition to audition. Sebastian is your typical “down on his luck” rascal, playing at bars to try and meet his dreams, and Mia is the “young starlet” who must go from audition to audition as she thinks her dreams may fail. The two work wonderfully together on screen and give fantastic performances as you follow a year of their lives together.
The movie boasts a fantastic score and soundtrack, with compositions from artists such as John Legend. Combining elements of the classic Hollywood musical with Jazz, composer Justin Hurwitz does a standout job being a frequent collaborator of Chazelle’s. The music isn’t the only thing however as there is also a fair amount of complex choreography that makes the movie mesmerizing to watch, from dozens of cast members dancing on a highway from the opening number “Another Day of Sun” to a romp in the park with Gosling and Stone in “A Lovely Night”. The movies visuals overall are just fantastic, featuring an array of colorful costumes and beautiful set pieces that just made this film a delight to sit through.
I’ve always had issues with some musical films. When some of them get adapted to the screen they tend to seem flat and boring, as if you’re just watching a production that happens to be on screen, rather than a movie. La La Land did not feel like that at all. At once beautiful, fun, and interesting this is the kind of musical that could only be done as a film. The actors all give great performances, the music is fun, the choreography is epic and engaging utilizing camera work that moves around the set in what must have been numerous takes. Damien Chazelle manages utilizes the medium of film for all that it is worth and gives a product that is truly fantastic.