Dir: Damien Chazelle
Release: 12 January 2017
Confession: I love a musical. Give me big dance numbers, catchy tunes, brightly coloured costumes and predictable plot lines over a dreary drama any day. Singin’ in the Rain, Rent, Grease, the Wizard of Oz… I love them all.
But I think I might have a new favourite in the form of Damien Chazelle’s La La Land.
Yep, I’ve jumped on that bandwagon – but trust me. The hype is so, so deserved.
The Whiplash director (who’s only 31 and onto his third feature-length movie) has created a thing of beauty with this musical magic. From the casting to the choreography, for me, La La Land was perfect.
It’s a bit of a tribute to old Hollywood musicals. You know the kind – your mum’ll watch them at Christmastime. We’re talking Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire – all your 1950s greats. But it’s set in modern-day LA, the city of dreamers, everyone chasing the fame.
And we meet two of them – aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) and musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who dreams of owning his own jazz club. The two meet by chance, and don’t think much of each other to begin with. But after several unplanned encounters, they get to talking – and, rather predictably, love blossoms.
But it’s never as straightforward as that. Not in Hollywood! The couple have big decisions to make – will it be love or career that wins?
It’s a tale of love, of hopes and dreams, of compromise – and it’s magnificently done. Gosling and Stone have incredible on-screen chemistry, and while they aren’t the world’s best singers or dancers, it fits well with the story – they’re meant to be normal people so it’s all a little more believable.
This film had me from the opening sequence, a big, bold dance number shot on a freeway ramp with people dancing on top of cars and leaping over barriers, all done in one shot. I sat with a big smile plastered on my face and it barely shifted throughout.
La La Land is an explosion of colour, catchy music and it’s a great take on the boy-meets-girl story which doesn’t quite turn out the way you’d expect. If it doesn’t win Oscars – plural – I’ll eat my jazz shoes. (I don’t actually own any, but I’ll get some to eat them.)
And it’s proved one thing, much to my delight – the musical ain’t dead. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I’m off to practise my tap dancing…