Review: La La Land really does deserve the hype

Matt Adcock reviews La La Land (12A), starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone

Monday, 16th January 2017, 8:14 am
Updated Monday, 16th January 2017, 8:17 am
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land

“You could just write your own rules. You know, write something that's as interesting as you are.”

Welcome to a La La Land, a cinematic place of musical wonder and smoldering romance which will leave you dazed and amused in the best possible way.

Love is very much in the air for La La Land as it has already bagged seven Golden Globes, a host of Bafta nominations and will likely get some Oscar attention too. The thing is, this isn’t one of those ‘all hype and no trousers’ flicks - this is a singing, dancing ode to dreamers everywhere and a bittersweet celebration of the power of love.

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At heart it’s a simple story of struggling musician Sebastian (Ryan ‘Drive’ Gosling), who meets aspiring actress Mia (Emma ‘Birdman’ Stone), set against the handy backdrop of gigs, parties, auditions and clubs. Can Sebastian’s jazz piano skills set the world on fire, and perhaps more importantly – can his tunes win the heart of the actress who has the skills but not the breaks to dazzle tinseltown?

Director Damien ‘Whiplash’ Chazelle packs the film not just with infectiously catchy songs, heart-warming dance numbers and savvy observations but also finds time to look at the trials and tribulations of star-crossed lovers everywhere. What La La Land does best is to grip your heart and make you yearn to see true love win the day. This is the cinema equivalent of a sugar rush mixed with a roller coaster which delivers quite a high and might also put a tear of joy in your eye.

Also on hand for some able support are Finn ‘The Big Short’ Wittrock as Greg, Seb’s love rival, and singer-songwriter John Legend as Keith, one of Seb’s high school classmates/bandmates. But it is the main duo who rightly steal the show here – and they really sparkle with infectious chemistry and gleeful dance moves. Gosling proves that he is super versatile and looks gorgeous doing so, whilst Stone is right at home as a classic screen heroine and rocks some fantastic costumes. Plus massive props for featuring the ‘80s-tastic I Ran (So Far Away) by A Flock of Seagulls.

Everything about La La Land is pure class and it deserves the heaps of praise it is getting. If ever a movie could single-handedly relaunch the big screen musical this is the one.

Here's to the fools everywhere who dream – my advice is to go and join them in the cinema as soon as you can.