Release: 15th May 2017
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) are drawn together by their common desire to do what they love. But as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.
Last time Damein Chazelle set foot behind a camera, he turned jazz drumming in to the Full Metal Jacket – with J.K Simmons channeling his inner Sgt. Hartman, hurling all sorts of abuse Miles Teller’s way. A year later, it was all rushing and no dragging as the 30-something director unleashed yet another triumphant ode to jazz, with Oscar
winner runner-up, La La Land.
It was once said by Pablo Picasso that good artists borrow and great artists steal, so it must be the case then that Chazelle is well on his way to becoming a great artist. La La Land is laden with such frivolous thievery; you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the filmmaker’s Zodiac-style public vaunt. It is a crime so evident, there are hordes of compilation videos devoted to it…
No wonder then that this sickly sweet torrent of nostalgia runs fast and loose through the film’s DNA. But unlike its footloose forefathers, La La Land is secretly more concerned with the adult perspective of relationships than its glamorous dressing dictates. It could be argued that La La Land is a film to two halves, with its musical frolics representing the gusto and warmth of young love, in comparison to the later reflective elements that signify a more complicated reality that comes with maturity and nuanced relationships. Think Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine with an overture and dance number, and you are somewhere close.
Make no mistake, in spite of its commendable evidence to become something more than a superficial musical; La La Land is hurt by its sudden change of tact. What starts as a locomotive of song and dance numbers, jolts in to an almost deafeningly quiet soundscape of forlorn grimaces and John Legend monologues. Gosling does ex-boyfriend well, but overacting seems to come too naturally here; that and he is overshadowed time and again by Emma Stone’s charming, endearing Mia. There is tremendous joy in the film’s final act, and the last 10 minutes are nothing short of breathtaking. The journey, however, is not plain sailing.
Technically masterful, and full to the rafters with earworms, this is a film that will ignite the inner flame of hope for anyone willing to submit to La La Land’s undying pep, while a more sardonic audience will revel in it’s downward spiral sans Seb’s career spike. But as with any good musical, it isn’t an experience that everyone will enjoy. Thankfully it won’t take long to decide either way; your response to the opening highway rumpus will be the deciding factor.
Film Grade: A-
Considering the roaring success La La Land experienced at the box office, it is little wonder that Lionsgate have marked its home release with a healthy bulk of extras. There is a Commentary for those wishing to hear more about the technical undertaking behind the film, while a couple of song Demos prove to be a highlight. The Marketing gallery is fine if trailers are your thing, while the true meat takes the form of multiple Featurettes, which cover pretty much every aspect of the film’s creation; including the humbling experience of Gosling learning to tinkle the ivories.
Special Features Grade: B-
You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wish L.A was really this lovely.
Overall Grade: B+