La La Land

La La Land ★★★★½

La La Land is a lush, whimsical fantasy elevated by vibrant cinematography and electric chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

There’s a strong sense of sentimentality towards movie musicals from the ’40s and ’50s, in particular their structure and style, which blends surprisingly well into a 21st century setting. Chazelle pays homage to the classics with great conviction while centralising his story on a timeless tale of love in the big city. My personal adoration of musicals is so deeply rooted in the traditional book format; La La Land’s disposition of songs feels lacking and withdrawn from the modern musicals we’ve seen over the past thirty years.

The lively choreography and skilful camera work are a real treat in the large ensemble pieces, though the solo vocals are regrettably disappointing. Similarly, the two leads never sound remotely polished; both their duet and individual numbers are minimalist and authentic, contrasting the constructed and refined execution of the bigger, more elaborate sequences such as the planetarium waltz or John Legend’s pop performance.

From the vivid colours, theatrical lighting and grand set pieces, La La Land is visually stunning. There’s an irresistible earnest quality to be seen in every aspect of the film. Leaving the theatre in a haze, my initial reaction was a strong adoration for such a spirited and reverent film. Upon further review and discussion, I’ve discovered an underlying current of sacrifice to engage progression, especially in relation to the relevance of the musical film genre; one that I airily missed in my first viewing. I’ll most definitely need a rewatch in order to elaborate on my new perspective, but thankfully that won’t be a chore.

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