First things first, I am a huge fan of Whiplash (should write one of these for that as well). Hence when I saw the teaser for La La Land, a movie written and directed by the same guy who gave us Whiplash I was naturally intrigued. As the days progressed and the first trailer of the movie came out, I was pretty sure that I’d end up watching the film. Little did I know, that I would watch it twice within the same week.
Let me start by calling out La La Land what it exactly is. It’s a musical, one of those sing song movies, with a song at almost every interval instead of conventional dialogues. On the surface it is yet another love story between a man and a woman but as you delve deeper you realise that it is so much more. After a very long time I saw a musical with music so powerful that it has stayed on with me, probably till the moment you’ll be reading this. And why not? Damien Chazelle did give us one of the most brilliant music movies of 2014 (his second directorial venture).
The film grips you from the first scene itself. An ensemble of dancers break into an impromptu dance singing along in the middle of a busy traffic halted road. I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat, watching with my mouth open in awe. It continues by introducing the main protagonists, the ever so beautiful Emma Stone and the mysterious Ryan Gosling. Giving us an insight into their lives, it moves to show how they meet, keep meeting, fall in love and their personal relationships and hardships.
Emma Stone is an aspiring actress trying to make it big in Hollywood, going for auditions after auditions, being mesmerised by the stardom around her, hoping to join the elite club one day. Ryan Gosling on the other hand is a talented musician, a jazz pianist trying to save the dying genre of Jazz with ambitions of opening up his own club. Stone’s effortless innocent cuteness and Gosling’s intense yet goofy demeanour will make you love them from the word go.
Now, without going into much details about the story, let me dwell on what makes La La Land probably one of the best movies of this year and possibly one of the best musicals in a very long time. It is a movie immersed in grandiose. From the set design to the cinematography, from the acting to of course the music, everything about this film spells grandeur. Justin Hurwitz, the immensely talented music composer and long time collaborator of Chazelle has given music so powerful, that I’d be surprised if you don’t feel compelled to indulge in a little foot tapping yourself. The way Chazelle has played with the lighting in the movie is one of the things which will probably guarantee an Oscar for him this year in the technical department. The thing I really liked about his style is how he effortlessly integrates the old world charm when musicals were still grand with the new age technology which we’ve all come to accept as a norm. In many a frames you’ll feel like you’ll like you’re watching a movie from the 50s. Yet you cannot ignore or forget that this is very much set in our times.
With every musical sequence, I was enthralled. The music, the choreography, the set design, the lighting, almost everything makes you want to stand up and shout encore. For instance, the composition of someone in the crowd is one of the most captivating music sequences which I’ve seen in eons. From city of stars to another day of sun, each track will make you hum even after the end of the movie. The film is a love story between the two protagonists but set in the backdrop of powerful musical compositions, is the genius that one has to acknowledge. For a hardcore Bollywood fan who’s grown up with actors breaking into a song and dance routine at the drop of a hat, La La Land is a reminder that if done beautifully you’ll not get bored of songs in a movie.
I am usually not a big fan of musicals, having missed out on many a classics of yesteryears. However with this film I’ve become a fan of the musical genre. If asked to watch the movie again, I’d drop everything I’m doing and sit in front of the screen to lose myself in the sheer brilliance the movie captures.