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New & Noteworthy

ARTS & CULTURE

‘La La Land’ // LSRadio Film Review
Starring: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
Director: Damien Chazelle
Music by: Justin Hurwitz

La La Land‘s the brand new musical that people have been raving about: stunning cinematic effects, a central focus on jazz music, the apparently masterful acting of leads Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It’s even what people have said to be a “different take” on the idea of a musical. With the most Oscar nominations for a musical ever, along with plenty of prestigious award wins over the past few weeks:

  • BAFTA WINS: Best Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • OSCAR WINS: Best Actress, Best Director, Best Original Music Score, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design

With all these accolades being raked in early, you’d be half convinced that this romantic comedy musical might just be worth buying a ticket for on your own initiative, as opposed to the more common excuse of being roped into it by your partner. Fortunately, I was personally intrigued by the premise of La La Land, and went to a screening of it to see if it was something truly worth watching.


First Impressions

The tradition is well known in musicals, where the very first opening moments contain a big and ridiculously over the top introductory musical number which either makes people break into song or makes them cringe so much they become one with their seat. La La Land certainly does not disappoint and is good at keeping up with traditions. In spite of this however, something is quintessentially different in the approach of their opening number.  Sure it’s got the ‘people spontaneously dancing and breaking into song’ cliché, but you can instantly tell within this opening number that this is not your typical kind of musical.

After all the song and dance is over, and the extras resume their lives like nothing happened, we are then introduced to the main characters of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone). This pair have been known to be quite the on-screen duo in previous films, and La La Land perhaps represents the pinnacle of this partnership. I would agree with the general consensus that both Gosling and Stone deliver an excellent performance in their roles through the romantic chemistry, the tensions and frustrations; but notably the simplicity behind it all is what I feel makes it work so well, and thus drives forward the story arc to its bittersweet, but more than fitting conclusion.

In Summary

In retrospect of seeing La La Land, overall I found it to be quite a good film. It will certainly have you dancing and prancing about like never before when you leave the cinema. However, I would caution to all those musical fans out there, do be prepared for more subtleties and instrumental focuses, rather than the traditional big musical numbers that most musical fans would expect. That’s not to say it doesn’t perform well as a musical, in fact it’s pretty good in that category!

If your looking for some escapism, and a reason to spontaneously dance around the streets, then La La Land is certainly worth a watch.

Photo Credit: Lionsgate, Summit

Mikey McCusker
Mikey McCusker
Head of Arts & Culture

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