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BFI London Film Festival: La La Land – Review

There’s a lot of detraction against the film industry. Many folks are dismayed about the industry and its state of affairs. Between over-inflated ticket prices, remakes and countless sequels, big movies telling the same story, and underwhelming blockbusters, it’s easy to feel uneasy about cinema and wane away from it.

Movie obsessives and critics will throw back their arms at this proclamation and scream: “No!” in loud dismay. That’s because since the beginning of moving pictures and glittering stars, there has been a whole plethora of online magic that has charmed, beguiled, and captured our little beating hearts.

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If you want to know what this feels like: To have cinema running through your veins with pounding delight, the glee of pure cinematography racing with colours, and enchanting music skipping alongside your merry spirit, changing the world into this bright and delicate place.

Then go watch La La Land.

The musical revolves around Mia, an aspiring actresses who serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions. She meets Sebastian, a jazz musician who is scraping by with his concerts. Together they navigate the world of their dreams whilst their relationship is strained.

There has already been a lot of hype revolving La La Land since its first screenings at Venice and TIFF. The hotly anticipated nostalgia film is a loving homage to the golden city of LA, the vintage era of movies, and the adoring marriage between music and the big screen. This all comes from Whiplash director Damien Chazelle who passionately crafts a beautiful sonnet to cinema and douses the story with romance, hope, and dreams the same way he drenches the scenery with colour.

Despite similar undertones of jazz, working hard to follow your dreams, and the battle with relationship balance, La La Land tonally differs from Whiplash yet doesn’t falter the excellence. What Chazelle has accomplished here is an aching testament to the power of movies and the essence of dreaming, floating upon a bed of stars and immersing into the cities sorcery. The story shifts and moves with the spectrum, allowing emotions to be mirrored in the backdrop or colour, enhancing every scene. All the while the musical motif taps gloriously on and in assured greatness.

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It helps that Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are such a provocative pair and have the most insatiable chemistry together. Whether dancing greatly (despite limited talent) or are silent and still in the more engrossing moments, the pair feed emotions to one another and produce this gloriously realistic and visceral couple just emerged in the fantasy of Los Angeles. Whilst they may not have the greatest singing voices, they suit and match their characters. Highlights include City of Stars, broodingly sung by Gosling and What A Perfect Night as they pair toe-tap across an horizon. (But, let me tell you, Emma Stone packs a punch with her timid vocals in one scene that goosebumps will roll alongside the tears.)

The pair will cast a spell over you again, and again, and again.

Every sense of yours will thank you for the cinematic experience of La La Land. Not a second on the screen is wasted as Chazelle’s conjures splendour in pounding earnestness. You’ll leave the cinema with a song in your heart and a skip in your step, racing back into the world to follow that hopeful voice inside of you.

La La Land begs you to fall in love with the big screen, the fall in love with your dreams, fall in love with music.

To just fall in love.


La La Land screened as part of the BFI London Film Festival 
It is out January 2017 

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