Film Review: ‘La La Land’ will make you feel but won’t make you think

John Kirton, Staff Writer

“La La Land,” directed by Damien Chazelle, has been cleaning up the awards this season, and it has been getting high praise from individuals who have already claimed it to be one of the best musicals in decades. But while “La La Land” is a feel-good movie that can entertain an audience, it ultimately lacks importance. The film is well made, and the actors are phenomenal, but other than that, “La La Land” is a generic chick flick with only a hint of humor.

The musical reveals the lives of two people in love who are also trying to get their big break in Hollywood. Mia (Emma Stone) is a charismatic young woman who is an aspiring actress. She struggles to be cast in a major role, which is something she has dreamed about since she was a child. At one point in the movie, Mia crosses paths with a dapper and talented pianist who has just gotten fired from his job of being the entertainment at a restaurant. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) has a strong passion for the dying music genre of jazz. He is constantly treading upstream in a sense that he wants to branch out and open his own club so that then he can have more freedom in what he chooses to play.

After their first curt encounter, they soon bump into each other multiple times. On one occasion, Sebastian is the entertainment at a pool party Mia attends. After the party, Sebastian and Mia have a moment alone where they talk and connect on a somewhat personal level. The next day, Sebastian finds her at her work in a cafe and from then on they spend a great deal of time together.

From supporting each other after being rejected to failing to be supportive and encouraging to one another, these actions are the slight signs that show the audience that the two lovers are becoming distant due to their interest in their careers. After contention rises between Mia and Sebastian, they both end up disappointing each other in how they support and agree with one another.

After a humiliating experience, Mia finally decides to go back to her childhood home and try another direction for her career. Soon after Mia leaves LA, Sebastian drives through the night to try and convince to her to come back and audition for another role after the casting company accidentally called him instead of her. The next morning Mia and Sebastian travel back to LA where she gets the part and has to travel abroad for her job requirements. The rest of the movie tells the story of how both of them manage love, loss, and Los Angeles

In the film, Emma Stone effortlessly portrays the energetic and charismatic aspiring actress to a point of perfection. Her portrayal of Mia was so spot on that she won the Oscar for best actress at the recent Academy Awards. Her character’s comical personality is one that seems almost impossible to ignore as it adds shades of humor and light to some of the darker moments of the film. Mia is very determined to land a role and become a famous actress. Stone strongly presents Mia’s excitement and raw ambition.She is so convincing that the audience feels as if they are in the audition room with her as she transforms into her character and delivers her lines with the hope of being cast. At certain points in the movie, Mia goes through hardships and trials, which Stone delivers in a beautiful and poised manner.

The charming and talented pianist in the film who catches Mia’s affection and eye is Sebastian. Gosling’s dance moves and vocals are a component in the film that gives the movie a feel good vibe. At certain points in the film, Gosling is seen playing the piano. Although playing the piano might seem like something minor, Gosling portrays his character best in these moments.He gets lost in the music; his concentration takes over his facial expressions and body movements, conveying the passion of a determined and enthralled pianist.

In the movie, the songs were a highlight in the film, so much so that the film claimed Best Original Music Score at the 2017 Oscars. The songs were very fitting to the theme of the film. One song in particular, “City of Stars,” which also received an Academy Award, has received high praise. Written by Justin Hurwitz and sung by Gosling and Stone, the song has a soft and delicate tone that represents the love Mia and Sebastian share.

The dancing in the film is very impressive and alluring. There is a moment towards the start of the film where people do a dance on the highway in the middle of rush-hour traffic. Being that dancing on the floor is hard enough, the component of people dancing on their cars was very bold and exciting. The dancing through the film is impeccable, showing obvious sign of long hours dedicated to learning the dance moves. Mia and Sebastian share a few dances together. Their performances together show the bond they have; they study each other and never make a mistake in the choreography.

The film’s directing and cinematography were recognized at the 2017 Academy Awards, where Chazelle received the Oscar for best director and cinematographer Linus Sandgren won the Oscare for best cinematography. There were very long shots in the movie that went on for minutes, which is not very usual in present-day filmmaking. The directing and cinematography in the film was exceptional being that it showed the actors and scenery in the best way possible for the most effective outcome.

From superb acting, singing and dancing to talented directing, “La La Land” is an entertaining movie that is loved by many. It tells the story of the struggles lovers face in modern day LA. Although the film is widely favored, it lacks importance and meaning, other than the reminder that things may not always go the way you plan or intended.

Grade: B+
“La La Land”
Rated: PG-13
Length: 128 minutes
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Musical
Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend