Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Film Review No. 19 La La Land (12+)

Strong Points:
Amazing cinematography
Superb score
Great musical numbers
A refreshing story
Great acting

Weak Points:
Singing was sometimes not at its strongest
Requires you to at least have some knowledge of the Golden Age of Hollywood to fully appreciate it
Pacing was variable

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
In a world full of sequels, franchises, biopics and gritty advances to beloved franchises, La La Land was a film I needed to see. A musical about Hollywood and the people who inhabit it, the entire film had a Golden Era sheen (mostly due to the cinematography). This film was a palette cleaner, showing appreciation for the feelings of joy and hope as well as what it's meant to dream.

The two main actors of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were superb, with believable chemistry and surprising musical skills from Gosling's piano playing to Stone's performance of The Fools Who Dream. Yes, I'll admit, the singing was sometimes not the strongest part of the film with some parts going into whispers, but the sincerity put into it made it heartfelt anyway. The dancing as well was great and the spontaneity of the routines was infectious (as was the light-hearted humour, which had digs against Hollywood itself, something which is always fun to see).

A clever mix of 'stagey' long shots and film style close-ups, La La Land treads the line between 'musical film' and 'stage musical filmed' well. The opening number seems to be done in only one shot (the difficulty must have been huge) and sets up the film well - style is the name of the game. Other interesting shots include bobbing in and under the pool at a party and the entire end montage. A nice thing is that these inventive and risky shots really compliment and don't detract from the story and its heart.

Talking about story, the general idea is to creative people, struggling in their jobs find each other and help each other to succeed. It starts off strong, ends strong and the middle is decent/great, depending on whether you like singing. And that's the story. Or at least it would be, but this is 2017, so let's add some extra, slightly bittersweet realism in there for good measure. Now, I won't be spoiling it here, but you'll probably love it or hate it, depending on your own personal views about dreams.

Finally, I must quickly talk about the more fantasy elements of the musical and the extra effects that came with them. The first observatory scene where they went off into the stars was... all right. I don't know why but something just felt a bit odd about how they got them up into the stars (although once there it was great). The second main section using effects was the ending montage and wow was it effective. Again, I won't spoil it here but it's very good.

Conclusion: an extremely welcome change of pace for the industry from the dreary and depressive films of the present, harkening back to the musicals of old. It's also a great film in its own right. I do have to give a quick commendation to John Legend as well, who did a great job as Kevin.

Rating: 90%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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