Like many, I was so excited about the release of La La Land, and finally went to see it last week.
Telling the story of Mia, an aspiring actress and Sebastian, a jazz pianist, it's a beautiful story about love, dreams and the hard work that goes into making something of yourself.
I have to admit that the first scene had me a bit worried. While I love the thought of people breaking into song and dance in a traffic jam, something about that opening number didn't sit quite right for me. I felt like the choreography was really at odds with the song, and the sound levels sounded not quite right, with the voices sort of getting lost in the instrumental. I didn't find it particularly easy to hear the words, and that made the scene feel quite long.
From that moment on, though, I was sold.
The overall look of the film is absolutely stunning. The colours are faded yet bright, and it really has that nostalgic feel of the old Hollywood movies. I'd also quite like to channel Emma Stone's outfits in everything I wear from now on.
This nostalgia for the golden age of jazz transfers beautifully into the music, which is rightfully the star of the show. The singing was spot on - especially from Emma Stone in her audition song - but it was the instrumental music which was the king. The music was absolutely breathtaking throughout, and I've played the soundtrack again and again since leaving the cinema.
And then to the casting of Mia and Sebastian - I thought Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were the ideal match.
Emma Stone was that endearing mix of dreamy and determined that the role really begged for, and her moments of fun in scenes like the pool party were really well-judged. I also loved her scenes in auditions, where she simply reminded us again and again what a fantastic actress she is. I had tears in my eyes during her big audition song, and though he may no longer admit it, my dad did too!
Ryan Gosling completed the duo brilliantly, and it was so easy to follow the emotional journey of his character, torn between a love of traditional jazz and the need to actually make a living. The fact he learned to play jazz piano for the role really elevated the whole film, for me. While his acting would have been incredible anyway, I think the film would have lost an awful lot had he not actually been doing the playing. But watching his exquisite playing and knowing the effort he had put in to living and breathing that role just took it to another level, for me.
Without giving anything of the story away, I've heard some people were unsure about the last ten minutes of the film. I've got to completely disagree and say I loved it. For me it was the perfect ending to the dreamy, nostalgic movie musical we had just been watching. I felt like it captured that juxtaposition of dream and reality well, and I actually found the ending quite satisfying. Not necessarily my dream scenario for the characters, but very believable and in keeping with the rest of the story and its emotion.
I'd love to know what you thought if you've seen the film, and in the meantime I'm going to play the soundtrack again...