If only all traffic jams erupted into choreographed twirls and joyous singing as happens in the opening scene of La La Land. A bittersweet romance between two artists, Damien Chazelle’s original musical dances viewers through an enchanting swirl of technicolor fantasy in contemporary Los Angeles.
The story centers on Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a jazz musician determined not to ‘sell out’ to the music industry. They are young and hopeful artists, dreaming of success in the frustrating city of L.A., and they fall in love. In the dreamy world created by Chazelle, the passions and dreams of the characters move them to sing and dance. While searching for Mia’s Prius along a car lined street, the couple bickers in front of a dusky sunset and slips into song. They sing “what a waste of a lovely night” and break into a tap dance that is playful and flirtatious, showing us through dance that, despite their words, they are in fact falling in love.
A throwback to musicals such as Singing in the Rain or An American in Paris, the film recalls the romance and glamour of old Hollywood without being nostalgic. Though the musical moves of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are not comparable with the prowess of Gene Kelley or Debbie Reynolds, the stars of La La Land compel the audience with strong acting and the charming naivete of their singing and dancing.
Winner of seven Golden Globes and nominated for numerous others, including Academy Award for Best Motion Picture, La La Land has the film world in a buzz. Self-aware and self-critical as a product of contemporary Hollywood, the film depicts the hardship of the industry while perpetuating the Hollywood fantasy by painting a whimsical, colorful, and glamorous Los Angeles.
La La Land is a film for dreamers. It spins us through a boldly colored world where Mia and Sebastian pursue their passions and are shamed for trying. Torn between love and artistic calling, the couple struggle to stay together and achieve their dreams. The film concludes with a delectably bittersweet moment that suggests, even in a Hollywood fantasy, it might be impossible to have your cake and eat it too.