La La Land (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes


La La Land (2016)

Directed by Damien Chazzelle

With Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

La La Land. An Oscar-winning musical starring two of the hottest screen stars in town. Sounds like something from the 1950’s, and well, that’d be just about right. Yes, it turns out they can make ’em like they used to.

He’s (Gosling) a frustrated jazz pianist, she’s (Stone) a hopeful actress. They meet in Los Angeles and take an instant like-dislike to each other. They fall in love with each other, we fall in love with them, oh, but if only it was that simple.

As writer and director (don’t you just hate him!?) Damien Chazelle proves himself a surefooted force, as La La Land proudly demonstrates his schooling on classic musicals – think Singin’ in the Rain meets Once More with Feeling! (yes, the Buffy episode). His debut offering, Whiplash, showed his talent for capturing rhythm in film, not only in the literal sense of musical numbers, but also the emotional rhythm of the drama, and how impact is amplified when we genuinely feel for our characters.

It helps that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are two of the most endearing movie stars on the planet, both conveying a fluid understanding of the other, while using their inherent charisma to comfortably surpass any limitations when it comes to the song and dance; handy viewing tip – they’re supposed to be ‘normal’ people, not professional singers and dancers. There are resplendent moments of unshackled joy happening left, right and centre, as Gosling and Stone capitalise on their natural chemistry to deliver a potent dose of Hollywood bedazzlement, the like of which hasn’t been seen in decades.

Away from the movie star glamour on show, there are multiple stars of La La Land. Linus Sandgren’s dreamily sumptuous cinematography is museum-worthy – almost every single shot renewing and spilling over a sense of love, colour and affection. While the soundtrack doesn’t feature any particular showstopping tunes, it is beautifully spaced around the love story we’re being told and is thoroughly welcome whenever it arrives.

La La Land aims to seduce, and from beginning to end, it does so with a magical spring in its step. Yes, we can cynically observe how overly in love with itself Hollywood is, but by that token, you’d have to trash a lot of cherished musicals to prove a point, when in reality, it’s more fun to let the stardust sprinkle down while getting drunk on the artfully choreographed sense of romantic wonder on offer.



About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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7 Responses to La La Land (2016) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. brettmkane says:

    Beautifully said, Gareth. This movie is so profoundly beautiful that every rewatch feels like I’m seeing it for the first time. It’s easily one of my new favorite films.

  2. sgliput says:

    I couldn’t agree more! I went into this movie expecting it to be as over-rated as many were saying at the time, but I walked out of the theater loving it. Easily my favorite film from last year!

  3. Natasha says:

    This is on my viewing list for this week! Hope I get to it.

  4. I thought the best part was the LA traffic scene. I guess I wasn’t as regaled as everyone else. I liked it enough to give it a recommendation.

    • garethrhodes says:

      The opening scene sets a great tone. I found it joyous, but I’ve read many articles by people who didn’t take much away from it. It helps that I like both leads. There was a sense of old-school magic to it that I liked. And musicals are low on my radar.

  5. I love this film. Typically my husband and I don’t go for musicals but we both really enjoyed this–and he stayed awake the whole time. To me this is a solid nine out of ten. Really nice review too.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I’m the same. Musicals don’t usually resonate with me, but La La Land did. I like the actors, which helps, but I this had so much old romance in it, and I’m a complete sucker for that. Thank you for stopping by to read and drop a comment.

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