Film Review: La La Land

Esther Liu writes:

Lalaland has had its fair share of hype. I wasn’t so sure about it when I first saw the trailer. The director of Whiplash…doing this? Really? [As an aside, Whiplash is an incredibly intense but fierce film.] But so many people I trusted were giving rave reviews that my curiosity was aroused.

In my humble I’m-no-film-critic-but-I-sure-love-films opinion, I think that the hype is founded. The film’s characters are believable, the colours are vivid and captivating, the camera work is sweeping and almost as choreographed as the dancing, and the music constantly grabs you –whether the fragile voice of Emma Stone or that insane note of the trumpet near the end. And the story, the simple but compelling story, speaks truth about compromise in life.

Sure, there’s all the nostalgia of the old classics like Singing in the Rain, and there’s a good spoonful of the Disney ‘believe in yourself’ mentality, but all this is shown within the wider, more nuanced frame of compromise. We are shown that pursuit of self and pursuit of dreams can get you the things that you yearn for, but these things will ultimately come at a cost. Sacrifice will have to be made.

This is true, isn’t it? I’ve found it to be true – if I really wanted to pursue my own personal career, my husband and my family and…..etc etc would have to come next on the list. We are free, in our postmodern social-mobility-mad society to dream and pursue those dreams, but we have to be prepared to spend money, time, and –the biggest sacrifice of them all – relationships for those things…if indeed they are so important.

The film shows us what is important. Even in the ‘City of Stars’ where dreams really can come true, the ‘one thing everybody wants […] It’s love. Yes all we’re looking for is love from someone else’.

It’s not like we’ve never heard that before – music on the radio, films for decades, books for centuries have put forward the same singular human need. But apparently it’s worth repeating. And Lalaland with all its big numbers and intense colours shows us once again that although we all have personal desires and dreams – whether jazz or acting or science or sewing – we all have one thing in common: all we’re looking for is love.