Starring: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone
Review Written By: Movie Parliament Prime Minister, Michael Dalton
Writer/director Damien Chazelle truly burst onto the scene with 2014’s, 'Whiplash', a film that brought the brutality of the war, or boxing, movie to a story about drumming. It was an absolute thriller of a film, with one of its posters boasting how its effect on your heart rate was comparable to that of riding a rollercoaster. Chazelle brings all the force that was on display in that film, and re-channels it into something that evokes an altogether different range of emotions. Where Whiplash had a dark, brooding intensity, La La Land has a light and dreamy melancholy. Perhaps more so than any other director working today, Chazelle knows how to film music. His intimate understanding of both art forms allows each to complement the other beautifully, as his camera races to keep up with the film’s stars and soundtrack but never disorients the audience in the process. Proving Martin Scorsese correct that cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s not, the movement of the camera constantly blurs the line between reality and fiction, as living amongst the self-proclaimed dream factories of L.A., lends the everyday life of the film both an artificiality and grandeur. The film’s old-school trappings are also playfully interrupted, as well as augmented, by the film’s modern setting. In fact, the film’s modernity is one of its biggest virtues. My main critique of the Netflix series, ‘Stranger Things’ was that I wanted to see 80s style child adventures that were set in the here and now for this generation, not doused in nostalgia. Whilst Chazelle is bowing down to a certain era of films and filmmaking, he doesn’t set La La Land in the past but the present, and delivers a thoroughly modern experience for modern audiences. It’s an incredibly ambitious work for a filmmaker’s third film, and we can only hope that this is a sign of even greater things to come.
In front of the camera, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the perfect duo upon which to rest a film like this. Their range of talents and crackling chemistry, mark them out as movie stars who could have been successful whatever the era. They can sing, they can dance, they can wisecrack, and they can do the big and the subtle. Scenes of them spontaneously bursting into song are just as enchanting as scenes of them having down-to-earth dinnertime arguments are heartbreaking. Coupled with his performance in this summer’s, ‘The Nice Guys’ Gosling has shown he is a far more versatile performer than some gave him credit for after his earlier, broodier performances. Meanwhile, Emma Stone gives one of the best performances of her career, with her character’s journey allowing a full display of both her power and vulnerability. However, the strength of any musical ultimately rests on the music itself, and if there is a supporting cast in La La Land, then it’s the songs. The evocative, ‘City of Stars’ is particularly catchy, whilst, ‘What a Lovely Night’ perfectly captures the screwball nature of those old Hollywood romances. In a year that has given us great film soundtracks, from Portishead’s cover of S.O.S in High-Rise to David Brent’s, ‘Slough’ in Life on the Road, La La Land stakes a late claim to be the best of the lot.
Movie Parliament Rating: LA-LA-LANDSLIDE
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,