“La La Land” brings the magic of live shows to the big screen

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate.

There’s nothing like going to see live theatre and seeing big, flashy numbers as people sing and dance across the stage. The feeling you get while seeing live theatre is very hard to replicate through film. Yet somehow, La La Land seems to do just that.

La La Land is an American romantic comedy-musical written and directed by Damien Chazelle that debuted at TIFF this year. It tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Mia is an aspiring actress and Sebastian is a jazz-obsessed pianist. At first, the two meet, hate each other and constantly argue, but soon fall madly in love through their shared love of jazz music. As time progresses, both characters become more and more involved in their art. Mia is desperate to become famous and Sebastian is eager to start a jazz club and make the genre popular again. Their separate passions are what spark their relationship, but are also what threaten to rip them apart.

La La Land won the People’s Choice Award at this year’s TIFF. Though the film is very similar to a standard romance film, it’s not your typical “happily-ever-after.” The movie’s musical element and passionate characters make La La Land a romance that other films strive to be like. Moments like their first kiss are turned into dazzling numbers filled with song and dance. It brings a feeling of happiness to the entire film and emphasizes how music and dance bring joy into life.

Linus Sandgren’s cinematography has the ideal blend of vibrant colours and immersive moments. Sandgren was also behind the cinematography for American Hustle, Joy, and The Hundred-Foot Journey. His shots and transitions had me at the edge of my seat the entire film. As Mia and Sebastian fall in love, the film’s colour scheme is radiant and bright. But when their relationship hits a dark turn, the colours begin to fade and the cinematography evokes a duller feel.

The magnificent quality of this film would not be possible without the genius of Chazelle, also known for writing and directing the critically-acclaimed film Whiplash. Though this is Chazelle’s first time writing a movie-musical, the film perfectly embodies what a movie-musical is meant to look and feel like. It has many Broadway-like elements such as large-scale dance numbers and the traditional stand-and-sing ballads.

Overall, La La Land is a spectacular and light-hearted film, but it does have its serious moments. The film’s talented leads make the transition from comedic to dramatic seamless. Gosling and Stone have been in several rom-coms over the years, but this film is by far their best performance. Both excel as triple threat performers.

The movie was an emotional journey—a touching story about following your passion that was filled with amazing music, dancing, and acting. So take a break from reality and take a trip to La La Land.

La La Land will be in theatres Dec. 16.