La La Land – A Return to Hollywood’s Roots


Jackson Adams, Writer

Before I watched La La Land, I had never watched any musicals in their entirety. I did not expect to enjoy this movie as much as I did, but it was a welcomed surprise. Damien Chazelle, the director of La La Land, previously created Whiplash in 2014, which received high praise and multiple academy awards. Before Whiplash, Chazelle had the idea and script for La La Land in 2010. He wanted to capture the old romantic feeling of falling in love and throw it into a musical setting while also grounding it in real life, where things don’t always work out. After watching the movie, the idea certainly worked, and it has become one of my favorite movies.

One of the film’s biggest highlights was the brilliant cinematography, and it was not afraid to show it off. The movie starts with an uplifting musical number that was smartly designed to look like a one-shot scene that lasted for over six minutes when in reality, the scene used three shots that were all stitched together with editing. It masterfully creates the illusion of a one-shot scene, which turns out to be an absolute blast to watch.

Although some scenes were edited to create the illusion of being a one-shot scene, there is a specific scene in La La Land that was a REAL one-shot scene. In the scene “A Lovely Night,” the actors perform a musical number filled with intricate details, including a whole tap-dancing segment, all with a magnificent view in the background. This scene not only highlights the cinematography but the actors as well. The 3-minute 57-second scene in which Gosling and Stone dance against the backdrop highlights the talent and rigor of both actors. Being able to stay in character and focus on the choreography all in one shot is an exceedingly challenging task, but both actors can pull through without showing any mistakes. It shows the beautiful talent that both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have when it comes to acting.

The movie has fantastic visuals from beginning to end. As soon as the movie starts, you are greeted by a busy highway with all kinds of different colored cars. Throughout the film, you are greeted with beautiful, aesthetically pleasing environments, all complimented by vibrant colors, creating a visually rich film that entices from start to finish.

Since the film is a musical, it is no surprise that there are multiple musical numbers throughout the film. Before I watched the movie, I did not expect to like the songs since I had never watched a musical before. After I finished the movie, however, I found myself enjoying every song. There is no easy way to describe every song because each song is so different from one another, but that efficiently brings a sort of uniqueness to each musical number. One of my favorite songs is “Another Day of Sun,” which is, in my opinion, the most upbeat song in the entire movie. The singers in the song are incredible, and the energy that the song gives off is very uplifting. Also, the choreography and stunts on screen are hypnotizing. It starts with only one dancer, then another dancer jumps into the action, and as the song progresses, more and more dancers join in. This was done to avoid having everyone dance randomly. As the movie’s opening, it effectively hooks the viewer before even getting into the film’s main plot. It could also be seen as if the movie is proudly announcing itself to the viewers that it is, in fact, a musical.

All these cinematic components come together to tell a beautiful love story between the two characters, Sebastian and Mia, and in order to fully enjoy the experience, it is best to go watch it and discover the plot for yourself.