by Sandra Kraisirideja
La La Land, a modern-day musical written and directed by Damien Chazelle, has been racking up accolades since since its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
This week La La Land received six Golden Globe nominations and two Screen Actors Guild nominations for co-stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. This is just the beginning of the awards season and the positive momentum will likely continue through to the Oscars.
Does La La Land deserve all of this praise? Is it really that good? I liked this movie a lot but I can think of three other movies this year that I loved more. I’m not gushing with praise for La La Land in the same way that I did for Captain Fantastic, Queen of Katwe and Cafe Society when those movies came out.
Still, La La Land is a well-crafted movie with wonderful performances. It’s always great to see Gosling and Stone together. They have terrific chemistry and are fun to watch together.
There is also something about the musical format that is sweet and endearing. It’s hard not to smile when two people move together gracefully and you can feel the attraction between them.
Even though La La Land is set in present-day there is a throwback feel to the whole movie. Gosling is Seb, a struggling jazz musician who dreams of opening his own club one day. He tends to dress in suits and ties from the 1940s and he drives a 1980s Buick Riviera convertible. Stone is MIa, an aspiring actress whose clothes are inspired by the same era.
There are few other characters in the movie. Singer John Legend has a supporting role as a successful jazz musician who brings Seb on tour with him. Rosemarie DeWitt has a brief scene as Seb’s sister.
Chazelle is working with top-notch talent behind the camera including costume designer Mary Zophres, production designer David Wasco and cinematographer Linus Sandgren. The cohesiveness of the look and feel of this movie created by these as led by Chazelle keeps the focus on the side of Los Angeles that still feels like old Hollywood.
Los Angeles is another central figure in the story. Familiar landmarks such as the Griffith Park Observatory, Angel’s Landing and the Colorado Street Bridge in Pasadena serve as the perfect backdrop for the budding romance between Gosling and Stone.
The music and lyrics are intimate and match the overall tone of the movie. The opening sequence features the movie’s only big musical number. Otherwise the songs are not flashy but they pack a strong emotional punch.
La La Land is a dreamy, romantic glimpse into a love affair that will make your heart ache in a good way.