When the world around you is going through uncertain times – and let’s face it, Brexit and The Donald really have shaken things up – the best way to cheer yourself is to get lost in some escapist dream.
So welcome to La La land, the glorious, dazzling, latest offering from director Damien Chazelle. For once, here’s a film absolutely worth all the hype. And then some.
This isn’t some slow burner that creeps up on you from behind. Right from the start it glistens and shimmers with a breathtaking full-on song and dance number on a gridlocked LA freeway. It’s fabulous, it gets your feet tapping and it brings a smile to your face – how can you resist its charms?
It’s in the traffic jam that jazz musician Seb (Ryan Gosling) first encounters aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone). It doesn’t go well, but you know they are destined to meet each other again. And they do and each time they do is the cue for more singing and dancing as we follow them as they follow their dreams.
Yet there’s more to La La Land than simply boy meets girl, they fall in love and live happily ever after (or not). We also see the setbacks life throws at them as they try to succeed in the ‘city of stars’ – the film’s incredibly catchy theme tune. Mia has to pick herself up after yet another audition for a part she doesn’t get (cringe-making but very funny), while Seb is forced to play music he doesn’t really like in order to get enough cash to open his very own jazz club. In fact, there are funny touches throughout that add yet another layer of charm to proceedings.
As Seb and Mia’s relationship deepens, Chazelle uses LA not just as a backdrop but as another character in the movie. From its bustling boulevards to the Hollywood hills and even the beach, LA gives off a sense of vibrant life. It is vital, and glamorous, and it dazzles you.
With La La Land, Chazelle has to an extent reinvented the traditional Hollywood musical and turned it into something fresh and exciting.
Even if you are not a fan of big song and dance scenes, this is one of the must-see shows of the year.