By Danyel Poindexter, Staff Writer
In an ensemble of youth, passion, and art, director Damien Chazelle—winner of seven Golden Globes, recipient of 11 Bafta nominations, and best known for the phenomenal film “Whiplash”— pieces together a masterpiece between two struggling artists that fall in love.
If you don’t know what all the hustle and bustle is about, it’s obvious you haven’t seen “La La Land,” released December 9. The enthralling story performed through music and dance surrounds Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, and Mia, played by Emma Stone, who become drawn together by their intense desire to realize their dreams in the art industry. Attracted by each other’s passion for life, the two eventually fall in love but face an array of decisions and consequences that slowly unravel the reality of their relationship and dreams.
In the opening credits of “La La Land,” the first official characters the audience are introduced to are not the protagonists who will fall in love, but a mass of youth and wonder performed using bright, vibrant colors that play a crucial part throughout the timeline of the movie. These various characters, like our two protagonists, wrestle with ambition as well, in hopes of accomplishing their dreams as expressed through the lyrics of the opening song, “Another Day of Sun.” Though neither of them knows what the future holds, as youths, they tend to stay confident when striving for their goals in life.
The opening song is just one of many in the soundtrack of “La La Land” that uses its lyrics to tell the story of the movie. The rest of the story is told through typical movie scenes and musical numbers that sometimes only include instrumentals. While lyrics and lines are vital to many stories, the right music adjusted to the mood of its scene can do just as much. This is a major accomplishment of “La La Land.” To announce the presence of the youth, the opening music uses an arrangement of trumpets, drums, etc., for a loud active beginning to coincide with the dynamic color choices and sunny day.
While all of this may sound generic, ironic, overrated, or what have you to a lot of the young people of this generation, “La La land” still does a compelling job of keeping the interest as it pertains to the youth of today. By using the vibrant colors throughout the movie, it physically and mentally describes the optimism we usually harbor in our prime, all while keeping the viewer focused on an intricate story of reaching a dream—and possibly falling in love.
Besides the energetic colors, music, and lyrics, what really gives this movie a successful outcome is the harmonizing relationship between actors Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Stone’s character, Mia, is a gifted aspiring actress who flickers between working at a coffee shop on the Warner Bros. studio lot and trying to get through fruitless auditions. Gosling’s character, Sebastian, is extremely ambitious with an overactive personality and is deadly in love with old jazz music, but with the digital era becoming more prominent to youthful eyes, it’s not the best music to be invested in. What each needs are opportunities, but what they find is one another. Of course, that sounds cheesy, but the movie and its actors show a strong story of realistic outcomes in the world today, no matter how much in love one is.
Stone and Gosling present a triple threat to the film industry with their dynamic combination of great acting, exceptional singing, and skillful dancing. This movie definitely wasn’t a walk in the park as the scene “A Lovely Night” would like you to believe. Other than learning the right pitch when singing, Stone and Gosling had to rehearse every day in order to learn an array of dance moves that included ballroom and tap dancing, all while keeping a steady chemistry on camera that connected their characters. Effortlessly, both stars stay attuned to each other’s steps and flow.
Director Damien Chazelle also brilliantly unifies modern day Los Angeles with old time musicals. Of course, some sceneries were modified to meet the requirements of the director, but ultimately all scenes were shot in some part of Los Angeles that included the shutdown of an entire highway. Those who think the musical era is dead might have to tell that to their tapping toes when they watch “La La Land.” Through this masterpiece, Damien Chazelle opens doors for future modern musicals in this new era of digital music.