How musical is La La Land? – film review

The Oscars are around the corner and everyone keeps talking about La La Land. What is all this hype about?

If you watched Ryan Gosling in the very laconic Drive, it’s hard to imagine him in a musical. And he commits a few songs in the movie. He might not be the best singer but is convincing as Sebastian – a fierce jazz defender. Plus, he deserves big applause for having learnt to play the piano for the part.

Emma Stone, on the other hand, puts on a truly fantastic performance as Mia – the aspiring actress. She showcases some serious vocal skills, too. Especially in the powerful Audition (Fools Who Dream) sang at the last audition.

Overall, La La Land has a good hook: it talks about music. Throughout the movie, we are educated on everything jazz. And John Legend’s character – Keith – teaches us that you cannot save the dying genre by being purely traditional.

The musical element of the film, however, is not so obvious. There is singing, dancing and the main theme is nicely interwoven between the scenes. Yet, there’s a lot of spoken word, so sometimes you completely forget you’re watching a musical until the next song takes you by surprise.

Hollywood loves fairy tales in contemporary circumstances. That’s why La La Land is built on classic elements: bright colours, carefully designed costumes and happy smiling people. It’s a standard love story with a different “happy end”. But it refers nicely to the evergreen values: don’t compromise on your dreams and stay true to yourself. And Hollywood needs such distractions in today’s America, torn between hypocrisy and negativity.

All in all, I have mixed feelings. And whilst the awards are well deserved, maybe La La Land shouldn’t be nominated in the musical category?

*The article was written in 2017, so some of the info might now be obsolete.

Fact file

Release date: 25 December 2016 (USA)

Runtime: 128 mins

Country: USA

Language: English

Filming location: mainly Los Angeles, California and surroundings

Genre: musical, drama, comedy, romance

Director & writer: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, J.K. Simmons, John Legend

Rating: PG-13 (USA)

Reviews: Rotten Tomatoes – 93%; IMDb – 8.2

Budget: $30,000,000 (estimated)

Gross: $151,058,124 (USA) (21 April 2017)

Songs: City of Stars, A Lovely Night, Someone in the Crowd, Start a Fire, Audition (Fools Who Dream)

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