What to do after the extraordinary success of Whiplash? For the follow-up to his 2014 hit, writer-director Damien Chazelle looks into the past while setting things firmly in the present, bridging two eras with a fizzy and exhilarating homage to the energy and optimism of one of Hollywood’s most successful genres.
Drawing upon studio-era spectacle, La La Land ushers the musical into the 21st century in all its brightly coloured, anamorphic splendour, telling the story of two star-crossed young dreamers determined to make it big on the silver screen. It is either stardom or bust!
A devotee of the jazz legends Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling, Lars and the Real Girl) plays a mean piano himself and is determined to uphold the values of the old masters. His plans include opening his own club, but to make ends meet he is stuck playing tepid cocktail jazz in a humdrum Los Angeles restaurant. Mia (Emma Stone, Birdman) is a movie buff with an eye for the classics who aspires to be a serious actress. For the moment, the closest she comes to seeing stars is serving lattes in the canteen on the Warner Bros. lot.
Sebastian and Mia meet cute no less than three times before diving headlong into a life-altering romance, but is their love strong enough to weather disappointment, compromise and ever-burgeoning periods apart?
Including an opening sequence shot on the freeways of LA that will have you jitterbugging in the aisles and another set in the Griffith Observatory immortalized in Rebel Without a Cause, Chazelle tips his hat to some of the enduring classics of Hollywood whilst reveling in the sheer joy and pleasures of a genre that continues to put a smile on our faces. As Gosling and Stone seductively sing and dance their way through the tumult of life and love, they sprinkle stardust on a movie that will put a twinkle in every eye.
“I was utterly absorbed by this movie’s simple storytelling verve and the terrific lead performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who are both excellent—particularly Stone, who has never been better.” (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
“La La Land is both a love letter to a confounding and magical city and an ode to the idea of the might-have-been romance, in all its piercing sweetness. It’s a movie with the potential to make lovers of us all. All we have to do is fall into its arms.” (Stephanie Zacharek, Time)