Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” was released in limited theaters across the United States last December, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive from critics and viewers alike.

When the movie first released, it was only shown in 750 theaters across the United States. From there, the fan base grew, and film made $33 million within the first month.

“La La Land” gained even more popularity when it won seven Golden Globe Awards, breaking the previous record of five awards won which was jointly held by five different movies in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite the cultural love and adoration of “La La Land”, many are wondering if it lives up to the hype.

In order to give a final verdict, I have to dissect the many parts that make up this movie. This is a spoiler-free article, so don’t be worried about major plot points.

The Story

“La La Land” is a movie about an aspiring actress named Mia (Emma Stone) who wants to make it in Hollywood. Another dreamer in the city of stars is a jazz musician named Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who wants to open his own successful jazz club. Mia and Sebastian meet in unusual ways, and they ultimately fall in love in the process.

There are a lot of movies that have a story involving two random strangers meeting and falling in love, but “La La Land” turns the tables by including the age-old conflict of following one’s own dream and being in love. Young people across the world can relate to this conflict of interests. This film is a love letter to the people who have dreams.

The Music

The music in “La La Land” is a big contributor to the story in itself. While the movie is labeled as a musical, it does not follow a structure of today’s musicals. Each song flows in such a way that it progresses the storyline beautifully, and not a song in this movie feels unnecessary. “La La Land” is filled with fun musical numbers, jazz, and a movie score that sounds like it was taken straight from a 1950s movie. One fact worth mentioning is Ryan Gosling’s jazz pianist training for three months to actually play the piano while in his role as Sebastian. Neither CGI nor hand doubles playing for him were used.

The Cinematography

One word to describe Damien Chazelle’s direction in this movie is legendary. Paying homage to classic films such as “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Umbrellas of Cherboug”, Damien uses a lot of continuous, single shots during the songs to avoid breaking away from the emotion of the scene. The transitions between scenes are fluid and natural. And of course, the final act (which will not be spoiled) is an amazing sequence that needs to be experienced on the big screen for yourself.

Verdict: Drop what you’re doing. See it today (or whenever you can.)

After watching this movie 6 times, I can still say that “La La Land” is such a beautifully written, directed, and acted film that most definitely lives up to the hype. It is a 10 out of 10 stars.

Rated PG-13 for some language
Running Time: 128 minutes

La La Land

Scene from the movie “La La Land” starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. (Summit Entertainment)