Los Angeles usually gets a bad rap. Often depicted as a seedy place where dreams die and careers vanish, it’s a wonder why it’s still popular. The lure of fame and fortune is its driving force with the chance of making it big as addictive as gambling. ‘La La Land’ explores the city where Hollywood resides with glee. A musical about love and desire that may not change anyone’s thinking about the area but the film makes it look as glossy as any big movie coming from it.
Living in Los Angeles in the hope of making it big, Mia (Emma Stone) aspires to be a famous actress. Waiting tables to earn a crust, she hopes to be discovered by the many power players she serves. Her routine is brightened by the appearance of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). A jazz musician playing dingy bars while waiting for his big break, he falls for Mia’s charms. As their romance blossoms so do their growing careers. While enjoying the trappings of success, their love is tested in ways that only a strange city like Los Angeles can create.
‘La La Land’ is a throwback to the glossy musicals of the 1940’s/50’s. Whilst set in modern day, it has a classic feel echoing past melodic spectacles. The staging and vibrancy of the dance/music numbers are superb, perfectly capturing the wondrous energy of the leads. The romance between Mia and Sebastian isn’t anything new, going through the clichéd motions of many romantic dramas. What it succeeds in is the performer’s genuine chemistry and the effective blending of mundane reality and sparkling set pieces.
Damien Chazelle’s direction isn’t always perfect with the pacing dragging the narrative. Like so many recent films, he doesn’t know when to stop. He does, however, show much flair in the stylised look and structure in the lover’s romantic entanglements. Los Angeles has never looked so enticing as it captures Mia and Sebastian’s imaginations but potentially destroying them too. The mix of music, drama, humour and some fantasy make for an engaging package.
Although slow in places, ‘La La Land’ maintains a consistency in tone and colour. The music is great with the actors diving into their roles with gusto. The movie musical genre always re-invents itself with ‘La La Land’ another fine addition sure to further enhance its reputation.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
Agree with Patrick's Movie Review? Then please use the comment box.
Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at movie releases in Australia.