Movie review by Andrea Karen Hammer
Even after a third screening, La La Land (2016) is one of the few films that increases in luster. A true marvel of film-making, this industry tribute reflects the frustrations of aspiring performers while allowing their hope to float.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone Create Magic Together
Ryan Gosling (as jazz pianist Sebastian) and Emma Stone (as aspiring actress Mia) create magic together in La La Land. From playful moments to heated exchanges about their pursuits, they produce natural chemistry, which takes full form in Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers references with a modern twist. Starry backdrops and mysterious lifts above the clouds leave viewers in a state of astonishment for most of the film.
Grand-scale scenes–from the opening number with dancers somersaulting over cars in a traffic jam–continue to stun. With many wondering how these feats were executed, viewers are left hungry for bonus features with the choreographer and composer. We were especially interested in learning more about the simple yet lyrical strain repeated as a heart-wrenching refrain throughout the movie.
Other special features, however, did shed welcome light from writer/director Damien Chazelle. Belying his youthful appearance, the Academy Award winner clearly conveyed his complex vision with respect for tradition, along with a few modern twists.
Uplifting Messages for Artists Pursuing Their Dreams
Some of the memorable takeaways are simple pleas for heralding the arts. Sebastian’s impassioned speech about refusing to allow jazz to die on his watch is one for the ages. The way that he encourages Mia to disregard others’ reactions and “give it your all” are uplifting messages for artists pursuing their dreams.
The film’s initially frustrating conclusion is rectified with Mia’s imaginative “re-writing” of her personal story. With the ability to sweep us away to La La Land, this love letter to LA continues to sparkle.
Questions for Artsphoria’s Online Film Forum
Did you still find La La Land interesting to watch after several screenings, and, if so, why? Can you explain any of the special effects used such as the actors dancing above the clouds?
What were some of your favorite scenes in this movie, and why? How would you compare the actors’ performances in other films including Lars and the Real Girl?
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