Spoilers may follow
Like a popular character for authors to write about is a fellow author, a popular subject for movies to focus on is movies themselves. The Artist took a look at the progression from silent movies to “talkies”, and it can even be argued that Inception is an allegory for making a movie. Likewise, La La Land pays homage to the big Hollywood musicals of yesteryear, reflected by its title cards and sequences like tap numbers and the two actors floating around in an observatory. The juxtaposition between these and more modern elements like cellphones and Youtube create a nostalgic feel that makes La La Land an enjoyable watch.
In Los Angeles, Mia (Emma Stone) works at a coffee shop but aspires to be an actress, though she keeps failing auditions. Then she meets jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), and they bond over their aspirations. Soon, Sebastian runs into an old friend of his, Keith (John Legend), who asks Sebastian to join his band, and soon Sebastian and Mia seem to be drifting apart after Sebastian thinks Mia only liked him when he was beneath her.
The movie opens with a traffic jam which then erupts into a big musical number about the sunshine. It’s a silly moment, but it made me smile, and it sets up what this movie has to offer. Musical and dance numbers, with true joy and energy emanating from them. It uses the techniques and styles of the old musicals, yet the story is still modern. The sequences are staged well, though I did think one at the end went on for a little too long. Still, even that one works well, comparing and contrasting Hollywood fantasies with more realistic happenings.
Stone and Gosling are both fine in their performances and do a good job playing off of each other. They are likeable characters and you do want to see them get together and fulfil their dreams. Sadly, they can’t have both, but Stone and Gosling’s performances are why the story is so successfully bittersweet.
La La Land is an enjoyable, entertaining film, and I can see why so many people have been raving about it.