Movie Review: La La Land


Spencer Knerr, Staff Writer

La La Land is a cinematic gem with a record-breaking seven Golden Globe awards and fourteen Oscar nominations. Praised by many as the film of the year, Damian Chazelle’s work is regarded by many critics as a stylistic and thematic masterpiece.

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, La La Land stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as two struggling artists, both wanting to make a name for themselves and to follow their dreams. However, as the film so vividly illustrates, this is not always easy. Sebastian (Gosling) is a skilled jazz pianist who feels the rhythm of his passion in his bones, but he cannot generate enough public interest for his somewhat obsolete talent. Stone plays Mia, an aspiring actress whose flair goes unrecognized by every acting agency, and who can never quite land that leading role. At times, it seems as if the universe is actively thwarting their every move, barring them from imminent success. However, amidst their trials and tribulations, they find each other, as well as the only remedy to their situations: love. As they help each other follow their passions, their entwined lives demonstrate the power of love and what it can accomplish.

A prominent theme in Chazelle’s film is the fusion of the modern-day with 1930s Hollywood. “It brings back something people really miss, the Golden Era Hollywood musicals, and it is rekindling this old spirit that has been missing in recent films. It somehow brings back this old genre and still makes it relevant to people today,” explained freshman Aaron Baseman, who has already seen the film three times. Baseman continued to say that he “liked how they were able to emulate these older films.” Many aspects of the film capture the contrasts and similarities between these two eras, accomplished beautifully through music, staging, and style of dress.

One of the most popular and striking aspects of La La Land is its soundtrack and music. A wide range of genres is present in the film, from beautifully haunting ballads like “City of Stars” to jazzy melodies like “Another Day of Sun,” which both capture the essence of Hollywood musical gold, though in distinct ways. The film itself features scenes illustrating the dexterity of Gosling’s fingers as they sweep up and down the keyboard, and glamorous vocals by Stone as she continues to wow the audience.

The acclaim for La La Land continues because this film is one for the ages. “It sparked things in my mind. It made me think about my dreams and what might happen to me in the future,” recalled freshman Adayliah Ley. La La Land resonates with us as individuals, and it will continue to inspire us to pursue our dreams, to never give up doing what we love, and to remind us of our vibrant past.