La La Land (2016) [Review]

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The magic of dreams and fate and things that were meant to be –  La La Land (Dir. Damien Chazelle) put aspirations vs. love into real perspective and that sometimes you have to give in order to get.

I had been dying to see this film ever since the first mention of it – partially because Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are two of my most loved actors – but also because from the first teasers you could already tell it would have that extravagant and dream-like energy to it.

The film follows Mia – an aspiring yet struggling actress trying to find her way -, and Sebastian – a talented musician who is desperate to keep people from forgetting the magic of jazz – who are drawn together by absolute passion of what they each love and their yearning for success.

There are so many things about this film that left me in awe – I’m not sure if it was the stunning and dramatic cinematography, the catchy and emotional soundtrack, the dreamy editing, the witty characters, the complete rawness of the storyline, or a combination of all of these things. Let me break it down;

Cinematography

Let me start with the very first shot – I really think this was a super effective way of beginning the film. A very slow one shot pan through miles of traffic showing many different commuters stuck in a traffic jam; to be honest it first reminded me of Jean Luc Godard’s 1967 film Weekend. The shot lasts well over 2 minutes, and it is incredibly skilful. A lot of work would have gone into this sequence to create one shot that was exciting and fun and that kept the audiences attention (well it sure kept mine!).

Throughout the film, the high standard of cinematography continued; using the long takes multiple times and capturing emotion when it was most needed.

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Soundtrack

The soundtrack had enough variation that the movie was able to flow nicely and it was able to add to the storytelling aspect. The first sequence was very extravagant and very impressive, it was fun and edgy and had everything that it needed to start the film off in a promising way. A Lovely Night, performed by Ryan Gosling was witty and fun, and inspired the playfulness of young love. City of Stars, sung by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone had me feeling a different emotion each time it was performed – and I have had it in my head ever since. Audition (Fools Who Dream) was also a performance that left you feeling inspired and hopeful. It conveyed the nostalgic emotion that Mia was feeling at the time and I felt an all new connection to her character.

Editing

There are a few sequences throughout the film where it is obvious that the editing really had taken the scene to its highest potential. One sequence in particular, where Mia and Sebastian go to the planetarium and share a dance, and the landscape transforms into dreamy, starry space where the two young lovers are silhouetted. Another interesting thing about the editing is that the film starts off as Mia’s life, until she meets Sebastian, and then it is almost like the film started again, this time from Sebastian’s point. It was an intelligent way of introducing the characters, as we can see the moments in which their paths crossed and their stories became one. I feel like the editor, Tom Cross, really hit the nail on the head throughout this film in conveying every emotion of passion, aspiration, hope and loss.

Character and Storyline

Unfortunately I feel I am limited as to what I can say about these aspects of the film as I don’t want to give too much away. I guess all I can say is that the chemistry between characters and their ability to stay levelheaded and think about themselves but also each other is incredible. This wasn’t like any ordinary romance where dreams are given up for love, rather it shows the different paths that young lovers may come across.

Overall I LOVED this film. It left a feeling in my stomach that wouldn’t leave and the story really resonated with me. Let me know what you thought!!

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