La La Land

La La Land movie review poster

Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Released: December 2016
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend and J.K Simmons


Despite the trailer making me expect Glee meets Grease, I had heard so many rave reviews about La La Land, that I simply had to see it for myself.

I was not disappointed.

A story about a boy and a girl, with grand dreams (already a refreshing storyline in itself). Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian, wants to be a jazz musician playing in his own bar – he represents old-style Hollywood. Emma Stone’s character, Mia, wants to be a successful actress – she represents the Prius-driving new-age Hollywood. Two strong-minded people going in different directions, yet refusing to let go of each other.

With elements of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, this absolute feel-good epic is layered and definitely deserves more than one viewing.

La La Land movie review is similar to Midnight in Paris

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land

La La Land movie review is similar to Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris

It’s not only romantic, but Mia and Sebastian’s stories are incredibly relatable and real.

Many people were disappointed by the ending (don’t worry, I won’t give it away), as it’s not exactly what was expected, and tinged with sadness. But I thought the ending was absolutely spot-on and perfect, as it keeps the tone of life being a little messy and little disappointing.

La La Land movie review of the dance opening sceneThankfully I was pre-warned about the opening scene, so the overly theatrical and colourful intro did not startle me. But I think everyone must be warned – it only gets better from here.

Nevertheless, this highway traffic jam intertwines with the story throughout the film. A metaphor for being stuck and not sure which direction to go, perhaps. But also the poignant location of the main characters’ first meeting.

This is a refreshing journey, unlike anything I have seen before.

I love the songs, which are few and far between. So claiming you’re ‘not into musicals’ is no excuse to avoid this movie. They sing about meaningful things during meaningful moments, and not about eating cheese or pointless things.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are incredible dancers, singers and musicians –  who knew! Gosling actually learnt the piano for the role, with no use for a hand-double.
I love how Stone’s voice isn’t the breathy, stage-sounding voice that you would typically find in American musicals, too. If her voice was too clean or edited, it certainly would have spoilt the soundtrack.

La La Land movie review girls night outThe jazz influence is AH-MAY-ZING. The writer and director is Damien Chazelle who wrote and directed Whiplash (love this movie too). So if you loved how jazz supported that story, you’ll adore the band performances in La La Land.

The trumpets! The pianos! The Sax! Brilliant.

The best part? (Apart from the costume design, music, story, dialogue, pianos and acting) It’s actually funny! I chuckled through my tears of sadness and joy throughout the whole film.La La Land movie review with Ryan Gosling and J.K Simmons

Especially any scene starring the amazing J.K Simmons, who plays Seb’s boss:

Sebastian: I want to let you know you’re looking at a new man. A man who’s happy to be here. [working a pianist at a dingy restaurant]
Boss: Right, and you’ll play the set list.
Sebastian: Gladly… Although, you know, I thought in this town it worked on a sort of “one for you, one for me” basis type system. How about two for you, one for me?
Sebastian: How about all for you and none for me?
Boss: That’s perfect, yes.
Sebastian: Great.
Boss: Okay.
Sebastian: Okay, a mutual decision then.
Boss: Made by me.
Sebastian: Right, and I sign off on it, so…
Boss: Whatever. Tell yourself what you want to know.

What a guy!

This movie is full of emotion, and you need to just go with it. Hence why you must lose yourself by watching it in the cinema. It’s a feelings kinda film.

Thank Christ Emma Watson and Miles Teller weren’t the lead actors. Rumour has it they were too demanding and wanted too much money. Youch! And now they are apparently gutted they didn’t snatch the roles.

God. That would have been a disaster… Think what the world would look like today if Hermione played the part of Mia… Think of the La La Land we have come to know, and how easily the movie could have changed… Disaster.

Stone and Gosling were perfect, it wouldn’t have been the same if anyone else had their roles. They’re grounded, humble and elegant. They’re relatable, but also aspirational.La La Land movie review

I will see this again. IT’S JUST SO REAL. And beautiful. And true. And honest. With incredibly moving jazz music, which created a movie that is layered, moving and deep.

“Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that ache, here’s to the mess we make.” – Mia’s audition song

Oh my God I think I might cry again, just thinking about how perfect this movie is. I want a yellow dress and take dance lessons now.

Jodie’s rating: 9/10


About NZ Film Freak

I am a journalism graduate (2014) from New Zealand. Currently working in marketing, and writing fiction in my spare time. I love to write about movies on this blog when I can. I also do paid reviews and voiceovers via Fiverr (nzfilmfreak).
This entry was posted in All Film Reviews, Date Night Movies, drama, Editor's Pick, Girls' Night Movies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to La La Land

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