La La Land: A good old fashioned Hollywood musical

A still from La La Land

A still from La La Land   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In a seemingly unachievable feat, La La Land manages to be both, real and unreal; even fantastical and brutally honest. Writer director Damien Chazelle highly anticipated ode to ‘olde’ Hollywood finally released in India on Friday, after a preview screening a few weeks back.

To the uninitiated, La La Land’s references may go unnoticed. For instance, Chazelle has deliberately added the very same window from Casablanca where Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart peer into the distance. Then there are the protagonists’ dance sequences in two-tone shoes harking back to Fred Astaire and Ginger Roberts and other classical screen couples. But it doesn’t matter if the allusions are missed. Chazelle has created a work that probably transcends cultures with beautiful colours and a love story that everyone will relate to.

Mia Dolon (Emma Stone) is a struggling actor in LA who meets jazz pianist Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling) through a series of chance encounters. Each get an opportunity to be nasty to each other. So their union is all the more endearing. Theirs is a love story that’s painfully corny (without being cringe-worthy) but with fresh emotions and an old-world romance in 2016. In this age of Tinder and flagrant hook-ups, here’s a couple that hesitate to hold hands. Their eventual kiss – after a montage of flying through a star-studded sky no less – is like fireworks. And yet, when the courtship is over and the relationship begins, Chazelle knows exactly how to bring alive our human dreams and ambition, the struggle for success and the yearning for a connection.

Chazelle’s cinematic effort is only accentuated by his lead actors. Gosling is of course lovely to look at on the big screen: his character’s passion for jazz, enduring hunger for success and love for Mia is heart-warming. But the Canadian dreamboat only plays second fiddle to the real star of the film. Stone’s performance reaches deep into the audience. She deftly pulls off being silly, funny and even broken and defeated.

Since, I’m not a huge fan of musicals, La La Land’s songs don’t really tug at my heartstrings, but a few riffs will firmly implant themselves in your ears. Gosling and Stone’s duet of ‘City of Stars’ is one of those emotional earworms that can’t help but linger. There’s also Stone’s soaring ‘Here’s to the hearts’ to wait for. Go watch La La Land because as clichéd as it sounds, there’s something in it for everyone.


Director: Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend and Rosemarie DeWitt.

Genre: Romantic musical

Synopsis: Mia Dolon is a struggling actress who meets and falls in love with jazz pianist Sebastian Wilder. Will their individual dreams put a spanner in their romantic works?

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 3:12:06 AM |

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