THURSDAY, 23 NOVEMBER – 7.30pm
LA LA LAND
2016 | US | Comedy-Drama-Musical | Directed by Damien Chazelle. Starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons. 128 min. Rated 12A.
It seems appropriate to screen an all-American film on this fourth Thursday of November, aka American Thanksgiving Day.
Despite its asterisked status as winner for just five minutes of the 2016 Best Picture Oscar, La La Land nevertheless DID win six other Oscars and five Baftas, including Best Actress for Emma Stone on both sides of the pond, plus a Best Director Oscar for wunderkind Damien (Whiplash) Chazelle, at the ripe old age of 32. All the awards were well-deserved, despite the inexplicable backlash against the film amid claims of marginalised artists, gender politics and the falsity of jazz fusion. Hogwash. Bittersweet instead of saccharine, snappy yet guardedly optimistic, La La Land mostly depicts, in a joyous way, the eternal tension between ambition and love.
Stone and Ryan Gosling give terrific performances in this beguiling romance, set in contemporary Hollywood. The tone is light and airy, the set design candy-coloured, and the story simple, but lent immense verve by the style of Chazelle’s direction and the chemistry and sheer charisma supplied by Stone and Gosling, who radiate charm, sincerity and emotional vulnerability as their characters open up to each other. Stone is wannabe movie star Mia, Gosling is aspiring jazz pianist Seb, and both are hobbled by frustrated ambition when they meet cute and fall in love. However, success – when it finally arrives – comes at a personal cost.
While it’s true Stone’s and Gosling’s singing and dancing won’t trouble Fred and Ginger’s legacy, it really isn’t supposed to. There’s a spontaneity, even casualness, to the way La La Land carries itself that feels both moving and genuine.
Rejecting cynicism in favour of open-hearted romance and full of smartly choreographed musical numbers performed with heartfelt grace by its stars, Chazelle’s musical has been called a contemporary Singin’ in the Rain. If you already saw it in the cinema, you may find it even lovelier on a second viewing.
PS: Apologies to those of you who’d hoped to see Miss Sloane in this screening slot.
“An unapologetically romantic homage to classic movie musicals, splashing its poster-paint energy and dream-chasing optimism on the screen.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian ★★★★★
“La La Land succeeds both as a fizzy fantasy and a hard-headed fable, a romantic comedy and a showbiz melodrama, a work of sublime artifice and touching authenticity. The artifice lies in the gorgeous colors, the suave camera movements and the elegant wide-screen compositions.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times (A NYTimes Critics’ Pick)
“It’s not just any old musical, but the twirling, soaring kind that was last in style in the 1960s heyday of Jacques Demy, when Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac swished down sun-drenched boulevards in sorbet-coloured minidresses, trilling glistening jazz-pop numbers that imprint themselves on your heart in one go.” – Robbie Collin, The Telegraph ★★★★★