Release Date: December 16, 2016
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Amiee Conn, Terry Walters, Thom Shelton, Cinda Adams, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Rosemarie DeWitt, J,K, Simmons, Claudine Claudio, Jason Fuchs, D.A. Wallach, Trevor Lissauer, Olivia Hamilton, Anna Chazelle, Marius De Vries, Finn Wittrock, Josh Pence, Nicole Coulon, Damon Gupton, John Legend, Christopher Michael Stevens
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 128 minutes
Production Company: Black Label Media, Gilbert Films, Impostor Pictures, Marc Platt Productions, Lionsgate
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical
Budget: $30,000,000 (estimated)
Director Damien Chazelle loves him some jazz music, and if he keeps pushing it I’ll become more of a fan myself. He knows how to give life to the music before, during, and after a set is played on top of the electricity the art form already possesses. It’s hard to forget Whiplash from just two years ago. The ending from that film was arguably one of the best endings in film history. While La La Land doesn’t have the same great conclusion, it still has great key moments that are delightful. With time flying by so fast, many fail to realize that a lot of the staples in history that made Hollywood great are fading away. La La Land is able to capture that magic that lasted over decades, polish it off, and meld it with modern times to create a sensational picture that makes you want to sing and dance in the aisles.
No one knows what comes next in life, and that’s what makes it all beautiful. You could meet some of the most important figures in your life at the most random of times. It’s a fascinating yet scary thought that every step you take can lead to everlasting happiness or eternal death. Ok, maybe that was a bit much, but I think you understand. On the other hand, that’s how Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) met one day. Both were full of passion and destined to live out their dreams. There was something about Mia’s smile that you couldn’t help but adore. It was so pure and innocent even when she was in the middle of an audition trying to score her next big role. Sebastian had all the style in the world, loving his jazz and making dance moves from every note on his piano. When these two paired up, it appeared to be the perfect match. While they’re dancing in the streets, their moves light up the roads better than the brightest high beams could do.
Now if dancing in the streets and lighting up the road isn’t your cup of tea, have no worries, because you’ll convert over now. The choreography made it seem as if they were soulmates that were born to travel the world together. Their feelings felt natural; not only between the two of them while performing, but also from the extras that randomly danced on top of their cars in the middle of the highway. The director takes this and uses it for his advantage. He creates a world where dancing in the streets in the middle of traffic seems realistic. I mean what else do you have to do in traffic other than sit there? You’re already frustrated with your music playing loud to cope. So he took advantage of that making the audience dance along too. All of the singing and dancing had a purpose and gives you enough energy to fill the room.
Though while you’re being filled with energy from all the great music and loud colors, there’s also a troubling pace that slows it all down. The pacing was trash to say the least. This film is divided among the four seasons of the year, and everything was nearly ruined when there was a transition. A transition is supposed to be smooth and not jarring. Every time magic was happening on screen, a long pause would come up displaying what the next season was; taking away all the momentum. Imagine having the BEST sex in your life, only to be interrupted because you have to change rooms. Now you’ll be able to get things going again with an overall satisfaction, but who wants to go through that?
Earlier I spoke on how decision-making can change your life drastically. Towards the end it gives you an example of that, which can be interpreted in many different ways. It’s a vibrant display of what life looks like on the other side. We all ask what would life be like if we took the other job, or went to the other school. The moral of this story is, it doesn’t matter. No matter what you do, take life on and live it. No matter what direction you take, live it fully. You’ll be happier no matter what. The film portrays this towards the end without any dialogue at all, using only gestures. It was refreshing and insightful, despite being twenty minutes too long. There are key scenes I would love to visit again.