Recently, I had the opportunity to see La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle. This unique and wonderfully scored film stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, but also features J.K. Simmons and musical artist, John Legend.
Before we talk about the music in this movie, let’s talk about the story. Down-on-his-luck pianist meets an aspiring actress in the most interesting of ways. They fall in love, but various issues arise, causing conflict between the couple. The themes of chasing your dreams, finding love, and the glitz, glam, and darkness around a Hollywood lifestyle feature in this film. In terms of the cinematography, La La Land does an amazing job of including various aspects of filming and smoothly transitions from live action to stop motion to silent film to musical and back again in a gorgeous and aesthetic manner. The emotional aspect of the film can really bring tears to your eyes, if you’re a movie-crier, but if you’re not, you’ll most likely still feel that pull at your chest when watching because the tension and passion and music are just that strong.
Not only do Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling act wonderfully, their synchronization, singing, dancing, and overall chemistry just brings this movie to life. The struggle between pursuing love and pursuing one’s dream really hits you from the beginning and stays with you until the end, pulling at not only your heart but leaving you conflicted between rooting for the romance and wanting the characters to succeed in their lifelong dreams that they pursue in their own ways, especially with the various opportunities presented to each of them.
The scene in the planetarium had me blown away, swept into a world of swirling stars and dancing. This scene is just one in the movie that shows how unique and wonderfully done La La Land is in terms of an unforgettable movie.
Now, let’s get to the music. I can’t get enough of the soundtrack! In my opinion, some musicals overdue it with the music and over-exaggerated dancing and random outbursts of song. In the beginning, I wasn’t too impressed with the opening number of La La Land. I honestly thought it was a little much. But, as the movie went on, I was drawn into the story by the music. The emphasis on jazz and big band swing really appealed to me. I find that the music and movie mix into one amazing production, rather than act separately in an attempt to force a mood on the audience.
The essences of piano were enough to make the music-lover in me swoon. I’ve never felt so overwhelmed with aesthetic sounds in a movie before. This movie puts jazz in the spotlight and does it well too.
Yes, this film is classified as a musical, but each song and dance are placed perfectly in a way where it feels like you’re not just constantly seeing people spin around and dance their feelings or sing about what’s going on. I especially love the feature song, “City of Stars” that Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, and Justin Hurwitz perform at least three times in the movie, each time containing its own type of depth. And let’s not forget John Legend’s performance in the middle of the film! What an amazing song, powerful, fun, and overall something John Legend and his fans can be proud of.
The beautiful piece featured in the planetarium scene takes you away to what I can only describe as a ballroom in the galaxy, surrounded by a swirl of stars and planets, everything weaving together into one gorgeous scene of dance and music, the orchestra combined with the aesthetics of the scene bringing out real emotion and depth without having to even see the characters.
Overall, this film deserved all seven Golden Globe awards it won recently, and so much more! The music, the cast, the wardrobe, everything about this film is unique and beyond amazing. I cannot say enough good things about La La Land. Non-musical movie watchers can definitely find something in this film to enjoy, just give it some time because, in my opinion, the opening scene is not that strong, but once you get past that, it only gets better. I really encourage those reading this, or anyone to be honest, to see La La Land at least once or even just check out the soundtrack because it’s just so brilliant. I would definitely see multiple times in theaters, just for the music alone!