Film review: La La Land

La La Land is not a film for everyone and certainly won’t win over those hoping for something that challenges current social affairs that cinema potentially should; La La Land is however escapism at it’s finest and a beautifully filmed piece of cinema that keeps the viewer wanting to come back for more.

This film creates a world and cinematic spectacle that I have not experienced in a long time. The best way I can describe the feeling is a warm summer night on holiday with the exciting vibe of bars and positivity in the air. Damien Chazelle uses Cinemascope to provide a familiar yet new feeling through its beautiful retro widescreen shots and bright colours that burst from the screen. La La Land epitomises the brilliance of Chazelle in bringing music to film and follows on from his last film (Whiplash) by using jazz notes and riffs to really set the tone of the whole picture.

The creation of a world that feels so far away to most of us yet so real is what really makes this film stand out. I felt as if I was watching a different world from my cinema seat and this is the real beauty of La La Land; the creation of magic that leads to one of the best pieces of escapism I have seen in recent times.

The love story which graces the screen for the mere 2 hours and 8 minutes that seemed to flash before my eyes is one of very few possible criticisms that I can find for such a great spectacle of cinema. Emma Stone’s character Mia is forgettable and lacking development that made me not bothered by her dreams and eventual outcome of becoming an actress in Hollywood.

Ryan Gosling, on the other hand, continues his brilliant run of roles with his character Sebastian, an aspiring jazz musician, as he is able to bring a comedic side to the film that is definitely needed.

One scene with his traditionalist jazz artist character being forced into an 80s pop cover band is a highlight of the film and left me in hysterics. I didn’t really care much for their relationship yet found myself attached by the end scene which is beautifully executed throughout the near 10 minute recap of all the music used throughout to bring the film to an emotional climax. I would definitely say the weakest aspect lies within the story with the lack of character development I felt towards Mia; I really just didn’t care about her dreams and aspirations.

The music in La La Land is fantastic, there isn’t a stand out song and the lyrics aren’t catchy yet the piano jazz refrain and orchestral vibes are a piece of beauty and one that completely tie the film together. The end scenes are beautifully connected through the musical evolution of the film that you have just witnessed and really brings the film back from a very brief period of cliché relationship problems that have been seen many a time.

As a film lover the use of film sets from history and pure homage that is paid to Hollywood of the past and a genre that has seldom seen classics in recent times is one that I completely fell in love with. The scenes of the lead duo tap dancing through the sets and streets of Los Angeles brought me back to watching musicals as a child. The film plays on nostalgia, with Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian stating at one point “people want nostalgia” and the whole film leaving the viewer with a want for the past. This nostalgic theme and overly sweet escapism is one that won’t appeal to everyone and is what makes La La Land such a polarising experience that evades dealing with the issues of today whilst delivering an escape to a world of magic that pays homage to the roots of Hollywood.

This film brought emotions that I seldom feel and awoke my passion for cinema all over again, saying that, La La Land is not for everyone. It is not thought-provoking and it is not challenging, something that I usually look for in cinema. However, La La Land creates a world of escapism that I didn’t even realise I was looking for. This film is a modern day classic with it’s beautiful cinematography that pops from the screen, fantastic piano refrains and incredible camera work that has become a trademark of Chazelle.

Whilst some may not enjoy or love this cinematic experience it is one that I encourage everyone to go and see because it might just be the cinematic therapy you didn’t know you needed.