This’ll be known as 2017’s the ‘one that won’. The Golden Globes were just the tip of the iceberg of the storm that is La La Land, winning pretty much everything and award season is only just starting. Like 2011’s The Artist, this film takes the old and makes it new again – in the form of a 1950s-esque grandiloquent musical – it’s fresh, and masterfully executed.
At the helm is Damien Chazelle, who wrote and directed this film, as well as the smash hit Whiplash in 2014, he’s only 21 now and that makes me hate him a lot, because he is a pure talent, with more prowess and skill in his finger nail than most hope to achieve (myself included) in their entire careers. A modern-day auteur somehow he made a love story about a wannabe actor and a failed musician likeable, believable and downright thoroughly enjoyable.
We’ve got the hugely popular and cool Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in the leading roles, who both are stellar actors and who would’ve thought, also pretty good singers and dancers. Their relationship is pure, and we’re spellbound the entire journey watching from their first meeting right through the course.
Stone is an actor trying to make it big, auditioning constantly and working cliché in a coffee shop at the movie studio with a lust for more, until she meets Gosling and realises there can be. Gosling is a jazz pianist who is a bit of a loner, bit of a drifter, he is ambitious and talented, but lacks the motivation, until he meets Stone and realises his potential. The two are meant for each other, and at the crossroads of their lives when they meet, is both serendipitous and symbiotic.
Intertwined within this are a number of songs, characters in their own right; catchy and heartfelt and definitely lingering after the screening as I whistle one of the tunes while writing this. The spectacle is large, like movies of the past, adorned by big set pieces, lots of backup dancers and meticulously planned and choreographed sequences.
Chazelle utilises long takes and wider shots harking back to the days of old, but then reminds us the setting is modern day America, with smart phones and hybrid cars, and we are given glimpses of modern cinema in tight, quick and pacey editing, frenetic transitions and punchy dialogue that occasionally borders on ‘too real man’, as you find similarities to your own life in the veracity of the script and how its performed by its two stars.
The concept is simple yet brilliant. It is entertainment start to finish, friendly to all ages and creeds; just remember it’s a musical.
Honestly for what this movie is trying to be; 10/10. Full marks. Yep. Great start to the year.