La La for La La Land

Ananya Rajaraman, Reporter

La La Land is a story about two aspiring artists, Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), trying to fulfill their dreams in an unforgiving Los Angeles. The dreamy color scheme, the use of Cinemascope, the lighting, and most of all, the music, help bring together the elements of fiction and reality in this beautiful film.
Director Damien Chazelle, known for Whiplash, masterfully uses color scheme and Cinemascope to artfully depict the beauty of Los Angeles. The eye-catching colors burst like balloons on the screen, punctuating the dance numbers and scene changes.
All of this was vibrantly shot on film by renowned cinematographer Linus Sandgren. According to an interview by Kodak with Sandgren, the choice to shoot in CinemaScope was “to tell it in the vein of an older Hollywood musical, inspired by old Hollywood filmmaking.” This gave the movie a nostalgic, dreamlike quality that wouldn’t be captured with modern digital filming.
The marriage of lighting and music were key to film’s overall impact. Both Gosling and Stone performed on various occasions throughout the film, and when they did, the lights slowly dimmed and faded all around them until the only light shining was directly above them. The screen was empty except for them and their music, which the heightened the impact of every phrase and every swell. The music itself, directed by Justin Hurwitz, ranges from upbeat jazz, to lyrical piano, to soft vocals; certainly, the music played just as big of a part in the storytelling as did the dialogue and visuals.
A central theme in La La Land was the line between fiction and reality. There were imaginative and creative dance sequences, but there were also brutally honest conversations and arguments. Sebastian and Mia are happy while they are together – maybe the happiest they’ve ever been, but their dreams come before everything else. The world didn’t revolve around their relationship, which was refreshing to see.
Full of awe-inspiring visuals and tear-jerking music, La La Land is sure to win the hearts of dreamers everywhere.

3.5/4 Stars