Review: La La Land is a Miscast Masterpiece

Graphic by Mel Egan

By Chloe Frantzis

Managing Editor of Arts

Sit back in your seats prepared to laugh, sing, and cry along with this year’s top Oscar contender, La La Land.

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), La La Land is centered around the quirky and unusual romance that sparks between Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a passionate jazz pianist, and Mia (Emma Stone), a wannabe-actress who happens to hates jazz. Set in L.A., the two learn to lean on each other while attempting to achieve their dreams. Even if the plot may sound somewhat tedious, it is the whimsical yet powerful directing and amazing soundtrack that sets the movie apart. That, and the brilliant chemistry between the two leads.

Gosling and Stone have done multiple movies together in the past, perhaps most notably Crazy Stupid Love, which strengths the believability and their blossoming affection. Likewise, they are both popular actors of our age. The only problem I have is that I feel like the duo was chosen for the lead roles mostly based on their status. With so much singing and dancing, I feel as though the movie could choose actors better equipped with those talents. Gosling and Stone as good, but it is clear they learned everything for the movie.

For all you jazz lovers out there, La La Land is your next theater stop. Justin Hurwitz, Chazelle’s Harvard University classmate, and the composer of the movie, is the real MVP of the production. His unique yet classy tunes add emotion and character to an otherwise basic plot. Also, did I mention the jazz was amazing?

Sebastian’s talent on the piano, combined with other incredible trumpet and saxophone solos scattered throughout the movie, highlight Chazelle’s extreme understanding, love, and appreciation for music. Just like many other Oscar-worthy musicals to come before it (such as West Side Story, The Sound of Music, and Chicago), La La Land has those few songs that will be remembered and sung forever. “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme” is one, while “City of Stars” is the other. Although all the pieces are mind-blowing, these two in particular have a catchy and provocative melody that lingers in your head, leaving you humming along long after you exit the theater.

Besides the soundtrack, the other thing that sets La La Land apart is the uncommon style of directing. Although it may seem risky, it certainly payed off for Chazelle.

When the characters gets into their creative “zone”, the world literally disappears around them, and they are transported to another more fantastic magical place. Gosling and Stone start waltzing in the starry sky, or they become animated characters strolling through the night together. Although this somewhat avant-garde style may been considered too childish for an adult movie, it adds a loveable and aspect, which molds perfectly to the whimsical tone of the movie.

Overall, Chazelle’s daring directing style combined with Hurwitz’s playful set sophisticated melodies makes for a timeless masterpiece. It is easy to look aside from the mediocre casting, because everything is just done so darn well.

Not only is La La Land entertaining, but the struggles Mia and Sebastian experience are very human and relatable. They both dream of become famous in their professions, but often struggle over staying true to their dreams. And if they do achieve these aspirations, does that mean they have to sacrifice their love? Please go see the movie to find out for yourself– it’s worth it.