La La Land is Truly Magical


Ofelia Yeghiyan, Editor

On December 9th, 2016, Summit Entertainment released the smash hit romantic comedy, drama, and musical, La La Land. Directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the film tells the story of an aspiring actress and struggling musician who meet and fall in love, but face the issue of their growing careers threatening to tear them apart.

Emma Stone (known for Easy A, Crazy, Stupid, Love and the Help) plays Mia, an aspiring actress who has constantly auditioned for parts for years but never made it, and Ryan Gosling (known for The Notebook, Crazy, Stupid Love and The Nice Guys) plays Sebastian, a talented musician whose passion for jazz is stifled by small gigs that don’t allow him to play his kind of music. The two meet by chance multiple times, first in a Los Angeles highway, then a restaurant, pool, and cafe, where they soon get to know each other and fall in love, often carried away in imaginations of a sort of “la la land” (hence the title, which is also a name for Los Angeles where the film takes place). While everything is smooth at first, their relationship eventually encounters bumps as their careers finally begin to take off.

It features an atypical plot that strays far off from the usual Hollywood romance, full of twists and turns and surprises, yet lovable and enchanting, and an ending that is far from predictable. It’s emotional and humorous at times, and heartbreaking and wrenching at others.

The film is a 50’s style musical, full of dazzling dances and musical numbers. Both Stone and Gosling often showcase their talent, as do other actors, specifically dressing in solid, brightly colored dresses to symbolize the time period (though it takes place in modern day). Songs include:

  • Another Day of Sun
  • Someone in the Crowd
  • Mia and Sebastian’s Theme
  • A Lovely Night
  • Herman’s Habit
  • City of Stars
  • Planetarium
  • Summer Montage/Madeline
  • Start a Fire
  • Engagement Party
  • Audition/The Fools Who Dream
  • Epilogue
  • The End

As such, the movie flaunted many nominations and awards, from the Golden Globes to BAFTA. At the 89th Academy Awards the film received a record-tying 14 nominations (tying with Titanic and All About Eve), including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Gosling), Best Actress (Stone), and two nominations for Best Original Song (“Audition” and “City of Stars”). It just won six Oscars for Best Director, Damien Chazelle, Best Actress, Emma Stone, Best Original Song, “Audition”, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Production Design, and Best Original Score. It also won in every category it was nominated at the 74th Golden Globe Awards, with a record-breaking seven wins (Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Director, Best Actor – Comedy or Musical for Gosling, Best Actress – Comedy or Musical for Stone, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Original Song (“City of Stars”), and received eleven nominations at the 70th British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), of which it won five (Best Film, Best Director for Chazelle, Best Actress in a Leading Role for Stone, Best Cinematography and Best Film Music).

It has a rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.5/10 stars on IMDb. It is also critically acclaimed, Linda Holmes (NPR) describing it as “It’s just gorgeous, like a flipbook made of dreamy vintage postcards that are somehow about contemporary life in Los Angeles” and Christopher Orr (The Atlantic) praising the director: “Chazelle has reinvigorated the big-screen musical by embracing the present while paying tribute to the past, by balancing irony and innocence, novelty and nostalgia.”

MMS students also enjoyed the film, Jessie Johnson saying it was “Cool beans. A really touching story. Whimsical.  A must see. 9/10”. Fellow student Molly Xiao agreed: “A touching and beautiful story. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling work perfectly together and deliver breathtaking performances.”

The film is rated PG-13 for some language.

With spectacular performances by the stars and supporting actors, this film is a roller coaster of emotions and real depictions of the struggles of those trying to make it in the entertainment industry, complete with stunning musicals and visuals that will truly take you to your own “la la land”.

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