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La La Land - Review

An american modern-day musical movie achieves huge success!

Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and a lot of melody. Today we are talking about a movie that is currently sweeping awards at every film festival. A movie which was produced in Hollywood but is not a typical Hollywood movie! Through talent, singing and music, the audience is taken to La La Land.  

1900 is so 2016 

Since the invention of Jazz around 1900, it hasn’t been possible to imagine the history of music without its sound. Jazz has lasted generations, eras and wars - and two turns of the century. La La Land pays tribute to this music style by giving classical jazz one of the leading parts of the film. The film was produced in the US, more precisely in Los Angeles (LA), what can also be taken from the movie’s title. In 2016, the US production premiered in theaters. It was released in Germany in January 2017. 

Love between artists 

Two artists, both far away from achieving success, meet in Los Angeles. The story of Mia (Emma Stone) and Seb (Ryan Gosling) starts in winter and their life as a couple is told over the course of four seasons. Seb is a jazz pianist, who wants to bring the dying music genre closer to the audience of the 21st century. However, he struggles through life with side jobs since he hasn’t had his great breakthrough yet. Mia also has a dream: She wants to become an actress. While rushing from casting to casting with only moderate success, her actual life consists of working at a coffee shop. The relation between Mia and Seb is based on an encounter in a pub where Seb played and then got fired. After that first contact at which Seb didn’t pay Mia any attention, they randomly run into each other again. After several dates, they start to get feelings for each other and become a couple that always supports each other, in good and bad times. One evening, when they are are out, they meet Seb’s old classmate Keith (John Legend), who offers Seb to be the keyboard player in his band. Seb accepts and so the stressful life on tour is about to start. After a concert, Mia disappointedly notices that the Seb she onced used to know actually doesn’t like this music and they start to distance themselves from one another. While Seb is on tour for weeks, Mia works on her one-woman show. During a dinner, they have an argument and split for the time being. 

What we say: 

The movie uses a lot of imaginary “what if” scenarios that are introduced through Seb playing the piano. These scenarios, showing alternatives that don’t really happen, could irritate the audience on the one hand, but they also show the changes in Seb’s and Mia’s life on the other hand. This up and down would be difficult to convey through dialogs and would take up a lot of time.

We think La La Land is partly using too many clichés. Especially the deciding date of Mia and Seb is completely unrealistic. The dialogs of the movie are rather weak and partially very short. Since we don’t want to spoiler you, we just pose the question if the ending of the movie can be called a happy ending. 

The huge plus of the movie is the fact that Stone and Gosling dance, sing and play every scene themselves - an outstanding performance. In a scene, happening relatively at the end of the film, where Mia is at a casting, Emma Stone shows that she can also handle difficult compositions. The two of them dance with each other and, primarily, together, this is also the case when they sit in front of the piano. By the way, Gosling played every note on the piano himself! In comparison to the rather weak dialogs, the film shows strong and meaningful pictures. La La Land also works with silence excellently, often conveying more than words could ever do. 

There are certainly reasons to watch the movie: La La Land won seven Golden Globes. Last week, Emma Stone took home a SAG award. The movie received a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations! 

Our tip: You definitely have to watch the movie in English and shouldn’t expect a typical Hollywood film, but just dive into La La Land! 

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