La La Land: Ode to Old Hollywood and Dreamers


photo courtesy of IMDB

Kate Siltman, Management Editor

As a seven Golden Globes winning hit-musical, drama and comedy, “La La Land” has captivated audiences everywhere and has slapped a fresh coat of paint onto the genre of movie musicals.

This romance tells the story of Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a passionate jazz pianist, and Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress.

Mia dropped out of college to climb up the ladder of success to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. Audition after audition, Mia struggles to land a role, so instead she sets out to make a one-woman show.

Sebastian dreams to one day have his own jazz club and tries his hardest to preserve the tradition of jazz, for he knows jazz is dying.  Sebastian is offered a spot in a pop-funk band from an old friend, Keith (John Legend). Sebastian accepts the offer, and the band grows in popularity rapidly.

It is no secret that Gosling’s and Stone’s characters fall for each other, but like any typical romance story, hardship comes about for the young couple. Schedules begin to conflict as Mia’s one-woman show draws near, and Sebastian’s band is in a new city each night. Because both give their all in pursuit of their dreams, there seems to be no energy to put forth into their relationship.

One line from the movie summarizes this film beautifully: “Here’s to the fools who dream. Here’s to the hearts that break. Here’s to the mess we make.”

Therefore, the love story and the melodious aspects make “La La Land” a musical for everyone– for the ones who love musicals, for the ones who hate musicals, for the ones who adore romance, for those who loathe romance and for those who dream.

The beginning scene brings the audience to a typical Los Angeles traffic jam and kicks off with the opening number “Another Day of Sun”, a song about the joys of a brand new day and the world of endless possibilities.

“Another Day of Sun” is the only full-fledged musical number throughout the entire film. There are only five other songs that feature singers, and one of them includes the pop-funk song from Sebastian’s band. It is not like “Les Miserables”, where every word is sung, making it enjoyable to those who don’t care for musicals.

As for romantic movies, some viewers have come to despise the facade created by Hollywood, where movies present unrealistic expectations for romantic relationships.  “La La Land” changes the tide in romance and Hollywood, for the “happily ever after” may not be what the audience would expect.

Yet, the movie still draws from the Hollywood scene.  Although the musical is not based on a book, story or play, there are many inspirations from old Hollywood films, such as “Singing in the Rain”, “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and many more classic films.

It is said that Damien Chazelle, director and writer of “La La Land”, showed Hollywood classics to the cast and crew to show what inspired him to create the musical and in order to showcase what he wanted to capture in the film. In return, much of the choreography and costumes seen in the film make references to these time-honored films.