In 2016, director Damien Chazelle breathed new life into this beloved genre with “La La Land,” a modern musical that seamlessly blends old-world charm with contemporary storytelling.
Set against the backdrop of Los Angeles, the film explores the romance between a jazz musician played by Ryan Gosling, and an aspiring actress portrayed by Emma Stone. “La La Land” is a visual and auditory spectacle that not only pays homage to the classics but also forges its path, leaving an indelible mark on cinematic history.
A Nostalgic Homage to Classic Musicals
“La La Land” begins with a vibrant and unforgettable opening sequence set amid a Los Angeles traffic jam. This energetic musical number, titled “Another Day of Sun,” immediately sets the tone for the film, announcing its intention to infuse classic Hollywood musicals with a contemporary twist. The song and dance routines are a nod to the golden era of musicals, featuring intricate choreography and breathtaking cinematography that draw viewers into the world of dreamers and artists.
Ryan Gosling stars as Sebastian, a jazz pianist with an unwavering passion for the genre. His character’s pursuit of opening a jazz club in a world increasingly indifferent to the art form serves as a metaphor for chasing dreams against all odds. Gosling’s portrayal of Sebastian is both charismatic and heartfelt, as he embodies the struggles and aspirations of an artist trying to preserve a dying art.
In contrast to Sebastian, Emma Stone plays Mia, a talented actress determined to make a name for herself in the competitive world of Hollywood. Stone’s portrayal of Mia is a tour de force, earning her an Academy Award for Best Actress. Her character’s journey is one of self-discovery, resilience, and the pursuit of authenticity in a city that often seems to prioritize superficiality over substance.
The heart of “La La Land” lies in the undeniable chemistry between Gosling and Stone. Having previously shared the screen in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “Gangster Squad,” the duo’s on-screen connection is palpable. Their performances, both individually and together, evoke a sense of nostalgia while remaining relatable to modern audiences. Their duets, particularly “City of Stars” and “A Lovely Night,” are not only beautifully sung but also emotionally charged, making the audience invest deeply in their love story.
Los Angeles itself is a character in “La La Land.” The city’s iconic landmarks, from Griffith Observatory to the Warner Bros. backlot, serve as the backdrop for pivotal moments in Sebastian and Mia’s relationship. Chazelle’s portrayal of Los Angeles is a love letter to the city’s beauty and complexity, capturing its essence as a place where dreams are born and sometimes lost.
At its core, “La La Land” is a celebration of dreams and artistic ambition. It reminds us that pursuing one’s passion often comes with sacrifices and setbacks but is a journey worth taking nonetheless. The film encourages viewers to embrace their individuality, chase their aspirations, and find solace in the pursuit of creativity.
“La La Land” garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards, including six Academy Awards. Damien Chazelle’s direction, Justin Hurwitz’s musical score, and Linus Sandgren’s cinematography all contributed to the film’s success. “La La Land” is a testament to the enduring power of musicals in cinema, proving that this timeless genre can still captivate and inspire audiences in the 21st century.
In the world of film, “La La Land” stands as a modern classic, a testament to the enduring appeal of musicals, and a testament to the indomitable human spirit in the face of challenges. Whether you’re a fan of musicals, or romance, or simply appreciate the magic of cinema, “La La Land” is a must-see that will leave you humming its tunes and pondering its themes long after the credits roll.