Last Friday I had a little impromptu cinema trip. It had been a busy and rather stressful week so on Friday lunchtime I popped into our local cinema and bought myself a ticket to the much anticipated La La Land. With the added bonus that I had enough points to get the ticket for free! I know people might think I’m a little weird for admitting this but I’m no stranger to solo cinema trips. If there’s a film I’m desperate to see I will make time to go and see it, I guess this is one of the perks of my children being at school and me working from home. The last film I saw on my own was Suffragette, you can read what I thought about that here. I knew I had to blog about La La Land from about 5 minutes in, so here we go with the 5 things I love about La La Land
5 Things I Love About La La Land
- The homage to old Hollywood glamour
It was like a love letter to LA, a nod to all the beautiful and iconic musicals that have gone before it. As a child I loved watching the bright coloured and evocative American musicals on TV. Often they’d be on BBC2 on a Saturday afternoon and instead of playing outside as my mum wanted me to, I would curl up on the sofa, my eyes glued to the screen swept up in the perfectly choreographed routines, the often chaste exchanges and the glamourous dresses. It took me far away from our little house in Cornwall. La La Land had the same magic for me, and I smiled my way through it. You’d think that because of my exposure to these musicals at a young age then it would mean I’m a bit of a musical buff but I fear the opposite is true. I can count on one had the number of theatre productions of musicals I’ve seen. I can however safely say that I’ve watched many film adaptations and that’s really where my heart lies.
2. They aren’t the stereotypical leading man and leading lady
I’ve read some criticism that Ryan and Emma’s vocals weren’t particularly strong and how actors with a more musical theatre background should have been cast. While I agree that their voices weren’t the ones you’d expect in a musical, I do however think that they were perfectly cast. I loved their chemistry in Crazy, Stupid, Love (a must see, if you’ve not watched it) and it’s very much present in La La Land. Emma as struggling actor Mia is simply charming, I found her instantly likeable, and Ryan brings a little edge in his performance as the jaded Jazz pianist , Sebastian.
I particularly like their voices, it adds to the clever juxtaposition of contemporary film and storyline, and old school musical. I think it could have been so dull with standard musical theatre actors with powerful voices. That brings me on to..
3. The music
The La La Land soundtrack has been on my Spotify most days after seeing the film. My girls love jumping around to the opening number Another Day of Sun, and while it’s not my favourite or even indicative of the rest of the film it is a song you can’t help move to. Mia and Sebastian’s Theme is so evocative and just those first few notes transport me right back to the film. It’s hard to really talk about it without spoilers, but let’s just say it becomes really emotive.
I have to mention the jazz. I love jazz and Sebastian’s passion for the art form is simply magnetic. I’m not as enamoured by the song Start a Fire though, but I think that isn’t really surprising when it’s viewed in the context of Sebastian wanting a ‘steady job’ and John Legend’s character’s spin that it is bringing jazz to the masses you can understand it. Plus is crazy catchy, dammit.
You can listen to Justin Hurwitz’ full score for the movie here –
4. The clever juxtaposition
This film walks a clever line between musical and contemporary film. Set in ‘modern day’ but with a very Hollywood musical feel to it. I want to point out that it’s not just a film with songs and dance numbers thrown in incongruously, something that I fear has been the case with a few more recent musicals on the big (and small) screen. I also dislike it when a TV series decides to set one of it’s episodes as a musical (Greys Anatomy being one) as to me it feels so clunky to watch a cast member of a drama suddenly break out into song. It just feels odd. Due to my feelings on this I did have my reservations when sitting down to watch La La Land, but thankfully for the most part it was cringe free. For those not used to musicals I can imagine some of the scenes could have been confusing or unnecessary – the number at the planetarium for example. Personally I enjoyed them as they reminded me of when in musical films they’d suddenly have a scene with dancers in floaty dresses with a pink floor and back drop and it would all get a bit arty and dreamlike, I wish I could give a clear example here but I’m afraid I didn’t really pay attention to the names of films as a child.
5. The ending
Don’t worry there will be no spoilers here. If you’ve already seen it I’d be keen to know if you agree. And yes. I got rather emotional. I did not expect to but when Sebastian sits down at the piano poised to start and tentatively plays.. oh boy I was a wreck.
So there we have my top 5 Things I Love about La La Land!
If you’re not a typical musical fan but go in prepared to embrace it then I think you could enjoy it. I’ve nearly convinces my husband – the storyline and the jazz are swaying him, plus he liked Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love, so we shall see. Perhaps, when he’s seen it I’ll add his non-musical loving perspective.