Still fighting those January Blues? Then why not take a trip to La La Land…

Still fighting those January Blues? Then why not take a trip to La La Land…

After reluctantly watching a musical I actually end up enjoying, I always come to the realisation that I possess a seldom-spoken love for a jolly good sing-along, whether it’s one of Disney’s animated classics or the much darker likes of 2007’s Sweeney Todd or 2014’s Into the Woods. And then of course there’s theatre: The Lion King, Wicked, Thriller, to name but a few of the classics that have seen me fighting those unstoppable shoulder-gyrations. But quite often, I also find myself fantasising about living in a world where we all sing and dance in harmony and flawless synchronisation. What a world that would be. In fact, you could call such a place “La La Land”…

From Damien Chazelle, the director of 2014’s Academy Award-winning Whiplash, comes another fiercely-crafted flick that, like Whiplash, focuses on the dying jazz scene, as well as film itself. Emma Stone plays Mia, an aspiring actress who is trying to make it big in LA, the city that helps dreams come true and crush them at the same time. Meanwhile, Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian is a pianist, and one desperate to help keep the jazz scene alive. When they both meet, their sparks ignite and fuel each other’s dreams, but, like real life, it’s not all singing and dancing…

It’s always a good idea to go into the award season with an open mind: some films – and while they might be those that have wiped the stage with their contenders – might be nothing more than pretentious twoddle, while others can pleasantly surprise you. And though this sentence contains more words beginning with ‘La’ than I’d prefer, La La Land is definitely the latter. Emma Stone’s performance is flawless and impenetrable, while Gosling is, as usual, both effortlessly and timelessly cool. Then there’s the aesthetics: the film is gorgeous, filled with imaginative set pieces as well as some dazzling backdrops that serve the more song-less and silhouette-centred dance routines. Sure, this is fantasy, but there’s also some solid romance – otherwise incomplete without a dash of heartbreak – and therefore a beating heart, which helps ground the film in a reality we can relate to.

I’m glad I enjoyed this film, because I’d have been too afraid to walk out from fear of the audience thinking I was getting up to burst into song and dance. Though upon leaving after the film I was somewhat tempted to swing around a tree in the car park under the moon. Perhaps that’s because La La Land is one of those films – as rare as they are – that strikes your soul like a bolt of happy lightning and electrifies your musical bones. Or perhaps it was just all the sugar from the popcorn and fizzy drink – or a mixture of both. But on that (musical) note, days later, there’s still a groovy-ghost in my bones, and the film’s absurdly-catchy signature melody on inner-repeat.

Having already nabbed seven Golden Globes and wowed critics left, right and centre, La La Land kick-starts 2017 in film with quite a bang, while also raising the bar moon-high for unfiltered enjoyment. After a year of the unforgettable celebrity-death whirlwind and the most disheartening political events, reintroduce some soul and joy back into your life with one of the most upbeat, charismatic films to have graced the silver screen in decades. It’s joyous, uplifting, stunning, soulful and masterfully-crafted, all of which render this surreal Friday-night flick an instant classic.

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