La La Land: A Review

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By Natalie Devan

They say that musicals are obsolete. And they say musical films are definitely out of style. However, La La Land, the exuberant musical by Damien Chazelle that hit the cinemas last year in December, might just change the minds of said cynics.

It is the story of two passionate, but struggling artists trying to find themselves in the  fast-paced Los Angeles. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a talented jazz pianist, has set his sights on owning his own jazz club. Mia (Emma Stone) is a hopeful actress who flits between unsuccessful auditions and working as a cashier at a cafe.

Mia and Sebastian initially do not get along, but after two chance encounters, they inevitably fall for each other. However, as much as La La Land is about living your dreams, it is also about reality getting in the way of those dreams. Mia and Sebastian end up choosing different paths and eventually grow apart.

Ultimately, both of them achieve their dreams, but not in the way that they had anticipated. The ending is bittersweet, with Mia and Sebastian crossing paths once again, five years later.

La La Land stood out to me because of three main things – the cast, the costumes, and the soundtrack. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are known to have great on-screen chemistry with each other but this is by far one of their best collaborations yet. To create the vibrant, colour-saturated look of the musical, costume designer Mary Zophres (Interstellar; True Grit; Iron Man 2), made use of unique, eye-catching costumes. For example, Zophres got inspiration for Sebastian’s formal shirt and tie outfits from classic jazz icons from the 50’s such as Bill Evans. From Sebastian’s character-defining tap shoes to Mia’s bright dance dresses, the costumes complemented the characters amazingly, giving them more individuality.

The award-winning soundtrack is arguably one of the best parts of the movie. Every song propels the story forward and describes the characters and theme of the acts perfectly. The most impactful song is probably “Epilogue”, which features modified segments from almost all the other songs in the soundtrack. It goes from the upbeat first number “Another Day of Sun” to a soulful trumpet solo that escalates to a jubilant bleat. “Epilogue” finally seeps back into the sombre piano playing “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme”, which will leave listeners feeling sentimental. La La Land sets itself apart from traditional musicals as it contains plenty of dialogue between songs, which are saved for the pivotal moments in the film.

La La Land is a must-see as it will leave you feeling both motivated and nostalgic. Its modern twist will also connect audiences who do not usually enjoy musicals.

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