Movie: "La La Land"
Director: Damien Chazelle
Runtime: 2 hours 8 minutes
Release Date: Dec. 25
With the country in political and social turmoil, it is no wonder that “La La Land’s” dreamy charm is capturing audience’s hearts everywhere.
One lyric, sung by Emma Stone as Mia Dolan and featured in the film’s trailer, reverberates throughout the musical. “Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem,” Stone sings.
“La La Land” is nostalgic and wholesome. It makes a toast to fearless dreamers and the relentless pursuit of happiness.
Its nostalgia can be found at every turn of the film, in the biggest and smallest of details. The soundtrack is a tribute to the jazz music that Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian, dreams to save. The choreography mirrors classic musicals such as “West Side Story.” Even the set across from the coffee shop where Mia works was, as mentioned in the film, a part of the set of “Casablanca.”
The development of the film is rich in history as well. In an interview, Gosling remarks that the room where the orchestra scored the film was the same room where they scored “The Wizard of Oz.”
Rooting this musical in rich film history establishes the importance of the past on our ability to continue to create art. For Sebastian, jazz is his muse, saving it is his goal and opening a jazz club is his means to that end. In real life, it is the musical that is being saved and modernized.
Although the nostalgia in “La La Land” is apparent, the film sets new standards for the modern musical as well. The musical’s appeal is wide-reaching because it identifies with the ordinary man.
People from all walks of life can identify with the trials and tribulations of having a dream and the courage to pursue it. Both Mia and Sebastian struggle with the hardships of fighting for what they want, and they both consider settling for something easier and more comfortable, although mundane. Their perseverance beyond this, into the uncomfortable and uncertain, is an inspiration and a reminder to anyone to make sure you love what you are doing.
The choreography is simple and commonplace. However, in its execution, the dance pieces are clean and together. The musical found its footing with a combination of elegant ballroom steps and well-timed and well-rehearsed pedestrian moves.
Movie-musicals often cast actors as leads, and the vocals can be rough or, at least, lacking. However, Stone and Gosling stuck to singing songs well within their ranges — and they sounded good singing them. This also is not the first experience that either actor has had with singing — Stone was performing a live musical, “Cabaret,” when she got cast for the part, and Gosling was once in a band called Dead Man’s Bones.
Although the musical is a tribute to all dreamers, its surprisingly realistic ending shows that, unlike some classic old Hollywood films, the protagonist can’t always have it all. More likely than not, a dream requires certain sacrifices in order for it to come true.
A movie like “La La Land,” with such charisma and depth, is a rare gem — its Oscar buzz is well-deserved. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, only excited, if the film soon gets restaged for the Broadway theaters.