The unstoppable force that is Whiplash director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land finally sprang into UK cinemas, but does it have any chance of living up to such high expectations?
Having always held musicals at arm’s length, the all-singing, all-dancing opening number (which was worth the price of admission for many), unsurprisingly left me rather cold. However, upon meeting the endlessly likeable duo of barista and aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) and struggling jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), it was impossible not to become entirely swept up in their love story.
Not only becoming lost within the beautifully choreographed dance numbers against an array of magical backdrops, La La Land is surprisingly funny, with Gosling channelling his outstanding comedic work from 2016’s underseen The Nice Guys. Stone also shines with her unwavering likability and raw talent, with an audition scene that’s on par with Naomi Watts’ exhibition in Mulholland Drive. After being bowled over by its sweet and often humorous nature, I was stunned at how melancholic La La Land became, making the joyous moments all the more precious and adding an unexpected depth that grounded the film amongst its unapologetic spectacle.
With nostalgia-heavy films growing in popularity, it’s easy to assume La La Land is simply just a love letter to the golden age of Hollywood. However, Chazelle tips his hat to his predecessors, but also simultaneously creates a musical that is able to stand alone, with his individual fingerprints all over it.
Not only living up to but surpassing high expectations. La La Land left me with a spring in my step and a heavy heart, and is a superior film for it.