With awards season in full swing ‘La La Land’ is the film which everyone seems most desperate to see, myself included. Breaking records at the Golden Globes and opening to what seems like universal praise from critics it would appear that director Damien Chazelle has created something very special here. With the arrival of the official release date audiences have no longer to wait to experience Chazelle’s jazz revolution.
For those of you that aren’t aware ‘La La Land’ is a musical film, don’t let this put you off though as I struggle to imagine anybody who couldn’t find the toe tapping musical numbers here even the smallest bit infectious. Chazelle worked with former classmate Justin Hurwitz for the soundtrack and score to the film which could easily be the best thing about the movie, that is if there weren’t so many other great elements too. There are two or three really wonderful songs in this musical and they will no doubt make their way into many fans music collection instantaneously after seeing the film. The choreography for these musical numbers was fantastic with many sequences using large numbers of cast members, the spectacle was often breathtaking. Furthermore, the visuals to accompany several of these routines were so creatively entertaining. The film for me is at its best when it is all singing and all dancing.
Chazelle writes as well as directs here, his third time now doing the double. His screenplay gets off to a cracking start with the inclusion of all the big musical numbers right at the start of the film. The introduction to his characters is engaging and enjoyable and whilst they get to know each other the audience will be more than happy to watch this unfold. However, I found that as our characters became closer and as the big musical numbers became few and far between that my attention was slightly flagging leaving me with the conclusion that, for me anyway, the film just peaked too soon. The strength of the opening meant that the film’s mid section had a lot to live up to and through the nature of the narrative and the inclusion of the more subdued songs I did feel time go on. For example, whilst the song ‘City of Stars’ in itself is good I found it’s repetitive use in the film slightly monotonous. I would have rather have heard it sung once in it’s entirety than in the different forms that it featured in here. Thankfully Chazelle drew me back into his screenplay with a visually and musically appealing finale, including the biggest laugh of the film courtesy of a previous collaborator.
The mid-section to the film would have been much more of an issue if it hadn’t of been for the ridiculously talented leading performers; Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone. Both are fantastic in their respective roles and deserve every accolade thrown at them. They tackle this complex project with such confidence and ability being effortlessly likeable in the process. Their vocal talents are shown well alongside their flare for dancing, the highlight of which easily being the ‘A Lovely Night’ sequence which is depicted on the poster. More than this though they carry a lot of the narrative elements; offering the chemistry necessary for the central romance but also a great deal of humour. Through no words at all they were able to conjure up the laughs that I’m sure were intended by the director and it was many of these moments which I enjoyed the most when I found the narrative or music lacking.
I wish I had seen ‘La La Land’ months ago before all of the hype, but just like Chazelle’s previous film ‘Whiplash’, which I wasn’t infatuated with upon my first viewing, I hope by revisiting this musical again and again I can come to love it, just as I do now love ‘Whiplash’. My personal experience aside though, there is no denying that this is a triumph on so many levels and although I’m no expert in the genre it’s easily the best musical I’ve seen and I already want to watch it again.
Rating – 8/10
Question: What is your all time favourite musical?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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