14 nominations. This film has received 14 bloody Oscar nominations.
It’s the most celebrated film ever. And there’s been a hell of a lot of films over the years, in case you missed them.
I was expecting big things from La La Land and I think I was well within my rights.
Whether my next few paragraphs slate the shit out of this or not, Damien Chazelle is probably rolling around in dollar bills of pure delight right now regardless (not that his happiness depends upon the likes of my review anyway).
First of all, I get it. La La Land is pure escapist art. It’s beautiful. It’s nostalgic. And it offers hope to the many dreamers out there (myself included).
Chazelle seems to have captured the true beauty of Hollywood. The gaudy show lights blur with beautiful twilights and soft pink sunsets. There’s beauty in everything. Even the bloody characters are beautiful. It’s different to anything I’ve ever seen before. But maybe that’s because I wasn’t born in the same era as my Grandma.
When I saw it advertised I thought ‘Na thanks, don’t do musicals’ but the amount of attention it was receiving changed my mind. And to give it credit, La La Land has been described as a ‘musical for people who don’t like musicals’ (AKA, me). Although this is an elusive phrase, I’d probably agree with it.
The overarching story dominates the plot and the characters don’t sing their way through each scene. Don’t get me wrong, there’s the occasional musical number here and there but it’s not overdone and it simply adds to the entertainment.
It’s like an old-school musical meeting the modern world and the time period becomes lost somewhere in between. It took me a good few minutes to realise that it’s actually set in modern-day LA.
It opens on the LA freeway in a very much modern-day reality featuring a traffic-littered highway of daily commuters trying to enter the city (I pretend like I know this every-day LA complaint when in fact I’ve never stepped foot in America, let alone the razzle dazzle of Hollywood). Despite this, Davis even manages to romanticise everybody else’s real-life hell as all the radios flicker away and the commuters have a big song and dance about how great life is when you have a dream.
Everything is soft and beautiful, from the sounds, to each and every colour, and the incredible on-screen chemistry between Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone). It’s as though Davis is trying to make people forget about the vulgarity of modern society and focus on an easier time where the simplicity of life was celebrated (that’s if you wasn’t a minority, of course).
I’d go as far to describe La La Land as an ode to the Hollywood lifestyle and dream. And even an ode to jazz which seems to be making a revival. I must admit, although I’ve seen city cafes promoting jazz evenings etc, I’ve never really given it much time. but if anything La La Land has made me appreciate that a little more so big pat on the back, Chazelle.
It’s also interesting to notice how Seb is only truly successful when he embraces the future and the inevitable development of genres and traditions. Yeah, I know the ending pretty much sinks this theory but it’s a strong message and I’m sticking to it.
I feel La La Land was made for a nostalgic viewer who celebrates a past I’ve never experienced and therefore at times I found it hard to physically take myself to the viewpoint of this particular audience.
However, it’s clear to see that throughout the film there’s a renewing sense of hope in a time when we desperately need it. It gives the viewer the will to continue with their dreams, the spirit to fight and the belief that although the journey may be long, the destination awaits. You’ll leave the cinema (or your living room, who am I to tell you where to watch it?) ready to conquer the world. Until your alarm clock wakes you up to another miserable day and the only thing that awaits is an unprecedented amount of emails and a snappy boss.
It brings into question the sacrifices that we must make in order to achieve true success. And the importance of putting your own dreams above that of a love interest (I fucking love this message).
In a way, the ending counteracts the entire film as the generic, ‘easy-to-watch’ love story that dances across the screen is ultimately trampled on by the film’s final message that personal ambition is more important than a romantic fling.
Ultimately, even though the entirety of the film celebrates pure escapism, Chazelle willingly accepts that you can’t mix both fantasy and reality and with a wry smile on their faces, the characters seem to be aware of this too and they’re cool with it.
And let’s face it, I know a lot of people are pissed off with the ending but it would have been pretty bloody predictable if they got what they wanted, and who likes predictability? Apparently not the Oscars.