La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle, has obviously been hyped up a lot. It’s a musical film, which is a genre normally reserved for Disney or film versions of stage shows. We have certain notions associated with musicals that I think La La Land is aiming to banish.
Take a stage show. The actors have been trained in singing, acting, and dancing probably for their whole lives, and they have a certain, how do you say it, flare. I hesitate to say cheesy, because they’re not. They just slot perfectly into that West End box. Not to say there’s anything wrong with that, because I LOVE stage musicals. Jersey Boys is one of my favourites, the harmonies being impeccable, and Matilda gives me feelings of pure joy. Wicked is also incredible, but herein lies the problem. We’ve become so used to this over-exaggerated, dramatic high note, arms-in-all-directions version of a musical. So much so, that people are complaining about the singing quality in a film where the singing isn’t at the forefront, and completely missing the point. And that’s why I think La La Land is so important.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are highly accredited actors. Incredibly versatile, they’ve played many roles opposite each other, which gives them an unrivaled chemistry on screen. They aren’t the first actors who spring to mind when planning a musical, but I am so glad they were picked. This chemistry is the key to this film. It’s not about the singing or the dancing. It’s about the emotions that can only be expressed through music. If you listen to the soundtrack (which I have now done a few times), you’ll hear that the only noteworthy singer featured is John Legend. Of course, he’s a talented man, but that’s the point of his character. He fits the role of the performer who wants to take jazz to another level. Every other actor is an actor. Because they’re playing actors. And lovers. And employees. And people. This is a film about real people, who just happen to sometimes want to express their emotions through song and dance. And if you’re that person, sitting there, criticising Emma Stone’s voice because she’s not doing riffs and tricks, then you’re completely missing the point.
This is the kind of musical film we need. It’s not a hopelessly romantic story line, it’s not cheesy, and it gives a nod to the fifties, when musicals were regular features in cinemas. It’s a new age for cinema, and I hope many films follow in its footsteps. It’s the perfect film for people open to new ways of seeing things, and also just a nice thing to see with a friend. I went with my friend Elly, and she said in particular that the cinematography was beautiful, and we studied Film Studies for a year, so we would know. Obviously. My mum, a hater of all things over dramatic, said she was a big fan of the film apart from the very first scene; this is coincidentally the only musical-esque number in the film. I did enjoy the scene, but I do have to agree that it’s slightly out of place when you consider the rest. I also just love the fact that the music in this film is predominantly jazz, which makes for a great soundtrack even without the film.
It fulfills the needs of a musical film exactly, without being too much. I love it and so do probably millions of others. Basically, go and see this film. It’s sooo worth it. Plus someone will probably force you to see it anyway so may as well do it yourself!