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Kalamalama - Hawai'i Pacific University Student Newspaper

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“La La Land”: A Traditional Hollywood Romance

    By Samuel Williamson - Editor In Chief. February 23, 2017 - 4:04 pm

Picture provided by Movie Stills DB

Director Damien Chazelle aimed to make a movie that captured the idea of a classic Hollywood romantic musical. For the most part, he succeeded, but in parts of the movie, he lost it in translation.

The movie is set in Los Angeles, following the story of two struggling artists: Mia, played by Emma Stone, and Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling. Mia is a struggling actress living audition to audition, working as a Warner Brothers’ studio barista on the side. Sebastian’s life isn’t much different, only that he’s a struggling jazz pianist who is trying to revitalize a lost art.

After a couple of bristly encounters, the two finally connect at a party, where Sebastian is playing the piano with a late 80’s boy band. This is the part where the movie really starts to get going. Stone and Gosling perform their first musical number together as they walk to their cars, only to get cut off by her boyfriend’s phone call.

After seeing the entire movie, the first scene of the movie didn’t make sense. It was a great introduction to the characters Mia and Sebastian. After an opening freeway dance scene we see Mia in her car, sitting in traffic. She is practicing her lines and doesn’t realize the traffic starts to move. Sebastian is in the car behind her, so he honks and drives around her. Mia gives him the middle finger. That’s their first encounter. I don’t know what Chazelle wanted to accomplish with their first encounter, because it was never brought up again.

Chazelle tries to capture the old Hollywood-type romance with this film, but some parts were just not realistic. As in the scene where Stone and Gosling break into the Griffith Observatory to stargaze and they begin to float in the air. They dance while floating above the stars. It was an interesting scene, but just didn’t fit with the rest of the movie.

One thing that can be said is that Chazelle does capture a truly romantic story. Two people who are very different find each other. Yes, they are both struggling in their careers and personality wise they are opposites, but they have a strong romantic bond. The chemistry between actors Stone and Gosling is very obvious throughout the movie.

The previews showed Keith, who is played by John Legend, in many scenes, but he didn’t appear until about halfway into the movie. Legend’s part was short and had very little screen time. It was very disappointing to me. The trailer was deceiving.

My driver on the way to the movie asked what “La La Land” was about, and at that moment I couldn’t say what it was about. Now that I’ve seen the movie I can say that “La La Land” is a movie about love and compassion. It’s a classic Hollywood musical. It tests romance and embraces the idea of compassion. Some may think it doesn’t deserve all its awards this season, but it’s definitely a must-see.

One Response to “La La Land”: A Traditional Hollywood Romance

  1. Theodore Simonelli

    February 26, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    Trailers are often deceiving, and can sometimes even ruin the entire film!

    There are times that I’m perusing social media and a 3-minute movie trailer pops up. I watch it to completion (when I don’t have anything to do, apparently), and I feel like I don’t even need to go see the movie because I was just given the entire plot (and sometimes a glimpse of the conclusion) just in those few minutes.

    If it’s interesting, I’ll go see the movie. What’s worse is when I see some interesting things happening in a trailer that don’t even occur in the actual movie itself. THAT’S when I get irritated — and maybe that’s why I don’t go out to see movies very often anymore: they never seem to deliver.