Here’s to the fools who dream – Silly thoughts on Damien Chazelle’s La La Land

City of Stars, are you shinin’ just for me?

Oh my.

It was buzzing. It was absolutely alive. It was musical and flirtatious and epic, but also thoughtful and questioning and delicious. It’s as much fun as it is honest, the Golden Era dance numbers juxtaposed with a quiet, earnest, aching heart. And when the music fades, you’re left with the stunning realization that you’ve bled from fantasy and magic into the fuzziness of real life. How did we get here?

It was terrific fun to watch La La Land in a theatre in La La Land, because, well, the whole audience identified with the local jokes. Parked illegally got you in trouble? Yep. Traffic sucks? Big time. Obnoxious people talking loudly about their amazing script idea?  Oh yeah. Feeling like you’ll never attain your dreams? …I don’t wanna talk about it.

The tour through Los Angeles was terrific, seeing highlights from my walk to Target or my Saturday hike or all those neat places our parents took us when we were kids. And always that echo of dreams and hopes and wishes.

And while it definitely romanticizes LA (Romantic ride on the Angel’s Flight? Yeah, that thing is currently hiding behind chain link and barbwire, flanked by graffiti and guano. Her walking down that one street in the middle of the night by herself? Ehh, not exactly a safe neighborhood- don’t do it.), I believe that’s totally part of the point: LA is not the fantasy it pretends to be.

The music and silence were so carefully conclusive. I found myself trying to breathe quieter as the camera closed in on Emma Stone’s stage-worthy face. And the music! It acts often as a living being, an instigator, a fairy godmother of sorts. The thread that holds the characters and choices and dreams in place. It’s so tasty, I want to eat it.

Not unlike A Monster Calls, the film swims in and out of reality and surreality, digesting the half-truths of life in Hollywood, what dreams to chase, what sacrifices to make. Another film with that fantastic ache that nearly had me in tears. It’s almost too familiar at times. Big questions like, when is it a fairy tale and when do you grow up? Do you ever grow up? Does growing up make you jaded or wise? Can you have a fairy tale and success and a healthy life? How far can passion take you?

Can I see it again yet?

It’s a delightful tour of color and confusion and JAZZ (I might be going out on a limb here, but I think Mr. Chazelle has a thing for jazz). And a big applause to cinematographer Linus Sandgren and these almost languid shots seemingly without end, the staging, the lighting.

There’s so much to love, especially those loooong, classic shots that show just how talented this whole team is – they hold that magic for minutes at a time. It brings a heft, a reality, a presence.

  • It’s a throwback in all the right ways. Echos of “Speak Softly, Love”, the Singin’ in the Rain dream sequence, West Side Story costumes and choreography, and a few obvious others. It’s a delicious medley of modern homage.
  • It’s passionate – Emma Stone & Ryan Gosling gave it their all and it is evident. From dancing to singing to heartful acting, it’s all present. The film contains an irrepressible passion from all sides.
  • It carefully captures the subtle magic of falling in love and at the same time doesn’t shying away from reality.
  • It’s artful and real.
  • And it’s satisfying. It gives you just about everything you could want without making you vomit.

And as it dwells on dreams and fate and making your way, again I find myself here eager to write and create and share. Hope you’re enjoying this as much as I am. ;]

In theatres this December. Eat it up!

PS. I just want to live inside this soundtrack. But good luck ever getting Gosling’s sultry “City of Stars” out of your head. I think it’s been playing nonstop in mine for 2.5 weeks now. “…think I want it to staaaay…”


2 thoughts on “Here’s to the fools who dream – Silly thoughts on Damien Chazelle’s La La Land

  1. Fabulous review thank you.I saw La La Land in Sydney a few nights back and was swept away by a beautifully filmed dazzling retro musical about young dreamers. This crazy world is crying out for more musicals.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed, both the film and review. :] Between Pitch Perfect, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the live NBC musicals, and now La La Land, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see more of them pop up again – which I wouldn’t mind!

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