FILM IN REVIEW: La La Land (2016)

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‘La La Land’ – 8.6/10 IMDb

As mentioned in the most recent combo edition of ‘In Theatres’, La La Land was the number one film I was must eager to go and see to kick start the New Year! The romantic musical film unites Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling for the third time since Crazy Stupid Love and Gangster Squad. The duo gave exceptional performances as aspiring actress Mia Dolan and jazz pianist Sebastian Wilder, which played perfectly off of Damien Chazelle’s writing and direction as well as Justin Hurwitz’s musical score. As a result, the film broke a long-held Golden Globes record by winning seven awards and tied Titanic and All About Eve by earning 14 Academy Award nominations. This post will feature a quick film summary, a breakdown of my favourite parts of the film, as well as a couple of fun bonus items.

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‘La La Land’ [Credit: Summit Entertainment]

Film Summary

La La Land opens with an incredible group ensemble number (‘Another Day of Sun’) on a packed Los Angeles highway where we are first introduced to Mia and Sebastian. Their relationship doesn’t start with the sunshine and rainbows of most romantic films as the two share a snippy moment of road rage before they go their separate ways. Mia has a rough interview and ends up heading to a fancy party with her friends, after they convince her that she needs a girl’s night out with a bright and cheery number (‘Someone in the Crowd’). As the sadness slowly creeps back in, Mia leaves the party to unfortunately find out that her car has been towed so she begins her long trek back to the city. During her walk she wanders into a bar just as Sebastian has broken out into a passionate jazz solo. However, this is for the last time as the owner (J.K. Simmons) fires him on the spot and he storms off leaving Mia with all of her words left unsaid.

As luck would have it, Mia runs into Sebastian a few months later as he is performing with a 80s pop cover band at her friend’s pool party. There is obvious chemistry between the two even though their iconic tap-dance centred number (‘A Lovely Night’) attempts to argue otherwise. However, the two quickly begin to warm up to each other as they share their hopes and dreams for the future in LA’s movie and music scenes. Several romantic numbers unfold as the two sing the film’s key duet (‘City of Stars’) and take a trip to the Griffith Observatory (‘Planetarium’). As the storyline progresses the pair struggle with their individual aspirations, which leads them to question what the future holds and if their love can withstand the pressures of the unknown.

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‘La La Land’ [Credit: Summit Entertainment]

See Also:

Favourite Parts of the Film

1) ‘A Lovely Night’ – Skyline Tap-Dance Number


‘La La Land’ [Credit: Summit Entertainment]

The big tap dance number (‘A Lovely Night’) between Mia and Sebastian as they walk back to her car with the skyline in the background was exceptional. The two were adorable during the build up to the dance portion as Mia changed shoes and pointed out that they weren’t good together. Once the dancing began it was as if we had been transported back to Old Hollywood as the two let go of the dialogue and gave it their all. As the two are not dancers or singers by trade, I thought they gave a wonderful performance as they worked through Mandy Moore’s brilliant choreography. Also, all of the major musical numbers were done in one take so it was even more impressive to me as they both were not trained Broadway performers.

2) Bright & Timeless Costume Design

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‘La La Land’ [Credit: Summit Entertainment]

La La Land‘s costume designer Mary Zophres chose amazing outfits that popped with coloured and matched the timeless style of the film perfectly. My favourite outfits include the girls’ bright dresses in the ‘Someone in the Crowd’ number, as well as all of the jewel toned dresses worn by Mia throughout the film. Zophres has two Academy Award (Best Costume Design) nominations for La La Land and True Grit, but is also known for her work in Catch Me If You Can and Gangster Squad. Check out this fun Hollywood Report interview featuring Mary Zophres’ thought process behind the “Retro Realistic Look of the Film”.

3) Mia’s Passionate ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’ Performance


‘La La Land’ [Credit: Summit Entertainment]

As previously mentioned, Emma Stone is not a singer by trade but I felt like the films’ musical numbers all lead up to Mia’s final audition and Stone was exceptional. This song was the first time that Stone truly got to belt out the passion trapped inside of Mia, and I loved every second of it. As a result, ‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’ has earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song alongside the film’s iconic duet ‘City of Stars’. If you haven’t heard it yet or just want to listen to it on repeat, check out the bonus items for the full song with lyrics.

4) Extraordinary Dream Sequence

La La Land (2016 Film) -

‘La La Land’ [Credit: Summit Entertainment]

As the film came to an end and flashed forward five years we learned that Mia and Sebastian had not ended up together. I was initially sad but still happy that Mia had reached her dream and found love. However, when she stumbled across Seb’s I couldn’t help but smiling from ear to ear as Sebastian was able to capture his dream too. But, then my heart was filled with bittersweet happiness as the film’s dream sequence showed what could have been it magically rewrote the past so the two could end up together. Once the song ended the two returned to each of their realities and Mia got up to leave. However, on her way out she looked back to share a sweet smile, which captured how proud they were of each other and how real their love had been.

Bonus Items

For those of you who loved the film, check out this Travel + Leisure article for 13 locations in Los Angeles that you should visit. Also, click on the two video links below for Mia’s ‘Audition (Fools Who Dream)’ song as well as a mix of funny Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling interview moments.

2 thoughts on “FILM IN REVIEW: La La Land (2016)

  1. Richard says:

    A Lovely Night is probably my favourite song from the film, although it changes on a daily basis!
    I would love to see more modern musicals released. Hopefully this paves the way for some new ones. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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