Sunday night I was struck with a feeling I’m not sure I’ve ever had before, I left the cinema and all I wanted to do was turn around, walk straight back in and watch the film from start to finish, all over again.
I’m putting it out there early doors, La La Land will be in my top 5 of 2017 come the end of the year. And I shall tell you for why.
Firstly it’s visually stunning. From the very first frame, the colours jump out at you, the camera dances around our central characters, it frames them beautifully in every single scene. The attention to detail is meticulous, and yet never distracting. The way the colour and light drains out of the scenery consuming the characters as a spotlight makes it feel like a theatre production.
Which makes sense, as it is an unabashed, all singin’ all dancin’ good old fashioned musical. A musical with numbers so bloody catchy I tapped my toe under my desk for the entirety of Monday as I listened to the entire soundtrack no less that 3 times. Granted, I’m a sucka for a musical, but goddam this really hits the nail on the head with the composition of the numbers throughout.
The story is your classic Boy meets Girl. Boy and Girl fall in love. Boy and Girl fight… Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play Boy and Girl (Seb and Mia, a Jazz musician and aspiring actress), which is where Director Damien Chazelle has played an absolute blinder. They’re a duo that can do no wrong.
Before we go any further the script was originally going to be Miles Teller and Emma Watson, and I can’t even begin to imagine how different this review would be if that were the case- largely because Emma Watson is fucking insufferable.
So, not only are Stone and Gosling both fantastically talented, they’re both utterly beautiful, and have charisma for days. You can just tell that they’re having a whale of a time working together. Their natural charm oozes from the screen whenever they are together. It allows you to be comfortable in their company. Neither performance ever feels forced, and they have moments together that are laugh out loud funny.
This further cements Gosling as one of the real talents of our time. We’ve seen comic actors transition to drama fairly seamlessly- Robin Williams, Steve Carrell and Hugh Laurie all spring to mind. But to pull off comedy you need a little more. That timing doesn’t come naturally or easily to most. Yet in walks Ryan, for his second role of the year demanding comedic chops (after The Nice Guys, which was criminally overlooked in 2016) and fucking nails it.
It’s also worth noting that this is only Damien Chazelle’s third movie. What’s equally astounding is that his second feature was Whiplash. It’s clear that La La Land shares the DNA of Whiplash, but is the ugly, anxiety inducing bully of a cousin. His vision in La La Land of combining jazz and musical elements with just a simple, age old, yet somehow modern love story is something truly extraordinary.
I think where this film succeeds over all else is how such a fantastical, magical tale can be made to feel so real. Seb and Mia’s relationship feels real because their portrayal is just so earnest. None more so than their first date to the cinema.
This is perhaps the most sincere representation of what it feels like to be on a date and have butterflies swarming your stomach. It’s absolutely perfect.
I’ve tried my darndest, but I honestly can’t stress enough how much I enjoyed this film. It’s flawless. Even if it does have flaws, I didn’t notice them because I was having too much bloody fun.
The only risk is you’ve now been told it’s terrific from too many people and it might not meet the extraordinarily high expectations. I was worried about exactly this. Even so, La La Land delivered.