I walked into the cinema on a cold late night with my mother. Expectations were high, popcorn was at the ready and phones were off. La La Land did not disappoint.
The opening musical sequence on the busy roads of LA set the scene for both the plot and overall feel of the movie. From the outset I knew we were both in for a true theatrical experience, a movie filled with dance and song to both lift our spirits and make our hearts break… in a good way.
The movie was completely saturated with old Hollywood references from the costume and make up design to the song and dance numbers reminiscent of films like Singing In the Rain and West Side Story. I was basically dancing in my chair. Precise choreography combined with charming melodies, picturesque settings and a touch of movie magic (aka special effects) created spectacular sequences which were both appealing to the eye and ear.
Without a doubt, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have proved their onscreen chemistry over and over again. And La La Land was no exception. The pair shone as two struggling artists ultimately finding love and hope in each other proving that a little song and dance did not in any way stifle their chemistry. The nostalgic atmosphere, undeniable costar chemistry and an award winning musical score make La La Land the ultimate date night movie.
However, what appeared to be a stereotypical Hollywood love story becomes something much greater entirely. As my mother and I left the theatre, she looked at me oddly and said “you know Mary, it really does just take one decision to change the course of your life.” This musical movie had somehow made her reflect on her own life and the decisions she made that led her to exactly where she was. (Don’t worry, no spoilers!) And then all of a sudden I was forced to reflect on my own short life and indeed there were very few choices, actions and events which took place at major crossroads in my life so far and I’d have to agree with her.
In one lifetime there may a number of life altering choices we make, so few that we may count them on one hand. Despite the name, the over the top musical sequences and fairytale-like atmosphere, the characters were not living in La La Land. They had to deal with very real tough decisions, heart break, loss, struggle and regret. It would seem that this La La Land backdrop only served to accentuate the harsh realities of life and love. In the end, La La Land is a film of escapism and sensory pleasure. But as the name suggests, it is a world that does not exist, except maybe in the movies….