On Dec. 9, La La Land was released to theaters. On Jan. 8, the film won seven Golden Globe Awards. Now, the dream-like musical has been nominated for 14 Oscar nominations.
Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz musician who is struggling to bring back popularity to the once acclaimed music genre. When the two clandestinely meet, they fall head over heels for one another. In a romance set in Los Angeles, a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts, the pair must either fight for love or fight to follow their dreams. The original musical, written by Damien Chazelle, explores both the joy and pain involved with pursuing one’s dreams.
The film is largely a nod to Old Hollywood. Everything from the costume design to the music pays homage to the glamour that Hollywood was once known to be. The film opens with a large, colorful musical number in the middle of an L.A. freeway. The scene grabs the audience and sets them up for a glamourous ride throughout the rest of the film. However, the audience might be disappointed if they think that the entire film will be as big as the opening scene. While there are more musical numbers, nothing as big as “Another Day of Sun.”
The plot of the film is a basic romance story. However, in the simplicity of their love, the second act is pretty bare. For about an hour, nothing really seems to happen until the film nears the third act. The ending of the movie is beautiful. From the dreamy, melancholy sequence of Stone’s solo song “Audition” to the finale “Epilogue,” the audience’s hearts will wrench and bleed along with the character’s on the screen. However, while there is a perfect moment to end the film towards the end of “Epilogue” the film keeps going for about another five minutes and ends on what feels like a cliché note instead. While this is clearly an attempt to nod, once again, old Hollywood, the moment does not feel genuine.
La La Land first appears to have the inherent optimism that one finds in most musicals, but instead it is a melancholy story. Anyone who has dared to dream or who has had their heart broken can relate to this film.