You know sometimes you enter random competitions on Twitter and Facebook, and the like?
And you know how you never seem to win any of them?
Do you then start wondering why you ever even bother? Because you never even win anyway. Ever!
Well, last week I was thanking O2 Priority because I actually won something! Two tickets to a preview of Damien Chazelle’s new film, La La Land, to be exact! And yes, before you ask, I have pretty much had the soundtrack on repeat since seeing it, and I’m sure you will too.
Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, La La Land follows Mia and Sebastian as they attempt to follow their starlit dreams in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, their paths intertwining throughout their journeys and lives around the city.
I’ll be honest, I like a good musical and I love romance in a film, and La La Land absolutely delivers on both. But what it also has, that not all film musicals have, is the technical beauty. The cinematography, in particular, is stunning. The shots around LA, the dance sequences, the interiors at the clubs, are all perfection. Going in to see the film, I didn’t really know what to expect, so the opening number was such a surprise but a joy to watch. It left me in awe thinking about how incredible the choreography, camerawork, editing, just every single element of that scene was.
Throughout the film, I couldn’t help comparing details of it to Chazelle’s first (besides the lesser known Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench), and critically acclaimed feature film, Whiplash. Especially the editing; hard-cut and fast-paced, controlled by the beats in the music. The themes of Jazz, of music and of obsession and following your dreams recur throughout both and I get the feeling they’ll continue to be topics that Chazelle makes a part of his future films.
By the end, Whiplash wasn’t the only film I was comparing it to. There was another that I couldn’t help but think of, as it’s my favourite and I think about it constantly, and that was (500) Days of Summer. Romantic montages and the use of L.A. aside, what really struck me was the similarity of the endings. Both are heartbreakingly sad and beautiful and had me in tears, but they show love and life honestly, and I think that makes it worth it.
Like I said, the romance, the love story, or non-love story, is a huge part of the movie. As Sebastian says in the film, “You say romance like it’s a bad word”. And people really do. Especially being a film student, and as a woman, I always feel an element of guilt for liking romantic movies. Yes, there are a lot of awful ones, and maybe that’s the reason people think so little of them. There are also some really great ones, which, in my opinion, drown out all that noise. Love, and finding and having and giving love, is what life is about, and what are films if they’re not about life?
Yes, La La Land has issues with character, and the Manic Pixie Dream Boy, and major issues with diversity, especially following a subject so deeply rooted in black culture as Jazz, and it’s extremely important for the dialogue around those issues to continue. I just don’t think that that should take away from the fact that it really is, simply, a brilliant and beautiful film.
La La Land is released in UK cinemas on the 12th January.