*Warning: there will definitely be spoilers for La La Land. So if you haven’t watched it, go do that, then come back and join the discussion.*
Director & Writer: Damien Chazelle
Composer: Justin Hurwitz
Starring: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend
Release Date (UK): January 12th 2017
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical
Synopsis: A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
I went to see La La Land in theatres over a fortnight ago and have spent every subsequent night crying along to the soundtrack on a continuous loop. My mind has been wildly scrambling, thinking of how this movie conjures up such impactful and with-standing emotions, with the ability to reduce me to tears with a single musical note. And, all I can present is the fact that, I have never experienced such a reaction to a piece of art than that created by La La Land. This ‘masterpiece’ (a word I tend to adopt loosely) was the spark that reignited my love for movies, while compelling me to appreciate the soundtrack that accompanies them.
You may have heard many people mention the visual mastery presented throughout the movie. And that is primarily due to the use of colour. The narrative is separated into chapters which are in sync with the seasons of the year. The movie opens with Spring, and a musical number which celebrates the coming season of sun – this feeling is amplified by the vibrant colours of the cast’s clothing (as seen in the gif below). This perfectly introduces the fantastical tone for the season and the optimism the characters have for their futures.
Additionally, many of the dance numbers that occur during Spring and Summer include flowing sequences where the camera moves around the scene, uncut, making you feel as if you are a part of it all – drawing you into the world of the characters.
However, as the seasons change and the character’s lives hit more obstacles, the tone begins to shift. In place of bright contrasting colours, the character’s clothing becomes more muted, earthly colours – indicating the realism that is creeping into their lives.
Colour is one thing in media studies that you are always told to consider, and it’s often either ignored or done incorrectly. But, this movie considers the non-verbal aspects to setting a tone, for example: colour, body language, lighting, etc. In the Gif above, although the characters are smiling, there is an uneasy sense created due to the muted colours, the dark lighting, and Sebastian’s (Ryan Gosling’s character) delayed smile.
The visuals become instantly vibrant again during a dream sequence towards the ending; a sequence meant to depict the ideal outcome of every situation that occurs throughout the movie. This attention to colour draws you into the narrative as you sense the shift in tone between each scene. And, you relate to the characters as their world becomes more realistic and less idealistic, making it more satisfying when you return to the dream like visuals towards the end.
Another feature of the movie is music. Not only is it a huge part of Sebastian’s life, but the musical numbers that occur throughout are key as they indicate the character’s current status. The feature song is “City of Stars” is a constant song in a movie which constantly changes and develops, further drawing you in as every performance marks a new stage in Sebastian’s life. The song is his dream, it’s a song he wishes to perform in front of people in his own club one day. And so, every performance is him honing the song, until his dream can come true.
One note I would like to make regarding the music is, the singers are pretty average. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have quite average singing voices, and so do the rest of the cast. This works perfectly as it puts Mia and Sebastian on the same level as the audience, further emphasising the movies message of hope – if they can achieve their dreams, so can you too.
This movie destroyed me emotionally in ways I cannot suitably describe. There aren’t words to describe the way I feel. But, I hope this helped you understand a little bit of why I feel like this, maybe? I don’t usually discuss movies, so I have a limited amount of knowledge regarding sophisticated movie terms and techniques. I recommend that everyone watches La La Land, although I guess you may be tired of people saying that by now.
Thank you for reading this word vomit of appreciation. What’s your opinion on La La Land? Share it down below!