USG Film Assessment: Damien Chazelle’s La La Land and the Artwork of Making Artwork


Set in Los Angeles, Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” (2016) focuses on Mia Dolan (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling), a jazz musician, who fall in love with one another whereas pursuing their respective goals. 

Though their relationship initially appears inimical, they ultimately encourage each other to succeed in their targets: Sebastian encourages Mia to write down her personal one-woman play, whereas Mia helps Sebastian’s makes an attempt to create his personal jazz membership. When Sebastian’s buddy, Keith, gives him a spot in his jazz fusion band as a keyboarder, Sebastian accepts, planning to make use of the cash he earns from Keith to perform his goals. This resolution instigates an argument between Mia and Sebastian, which sees Mia criticize Sebastian for becoming a member of the band and not using a actual curiosity within the music he’s enjoying, claiming that he’s alienating himself from his true purpose. Pissed off with each other, Mia and Sebastian finish their relationship. 

Nevertheless, when a distinguished casting director, having loved Mia’s one-woman play, asks Mia to audition for a job in her film, Sebastian encourages Mia to capitalize on this chance. 5 years later, Mia and Sebastian have each succeeded in fulfilling their goals — however their relationship has failed, even because the movie’s ending signifies that their love for each other stays, with Mia and Sebastian sharing one final affectionate look earlier than parting methods. Finally, the movie suggests, these lofty goals have penalties. 

In fact, “La La Land” doesn’t appear fully disillusioned about goals, suggesting to viewers that every one of their aspirations are fully pointless, or that they need to hand over on them. Moderately, the movie is extra of a bittersweet ode to the truth of reaching our targets: because the ending signifies, we can attain our goals, however we should additionally perceive that doing so typically calls for sacrifice. Imagining the journey of fulfilling one’s goals as a linear path to happiness and success is quixotic; as an alternative, as “La La Land” suggests, we should put together ourselves for the ache we’ll undoubtedly face in our makes an attempt to realize our aspirations. 

I particularly appreciated that “La La Land” uncovered this actuality fairly than presenting an ideal, “completely satisfied” ending the place each Mia and Sebastian miraculously achieve each establishing their careers and sustaining their relationship. Absent from most films, this sort of realism is very refreshing to see. In any case, in actual life, the disintegration of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship could be completely believable, even frequent: issues occur, individuals have completely different priorities, relationships collapse. “La La Land” displays the truth of most relationships, particularly beneath the pressures of the leisure business. 

However it isn’t simply the realism of “La La Land” that makes it succeed. In actual fact, many should still argue that, regardless of the movie’s life like ending, “La La Land” is cliché; in any case, there are numerous films about trying to achieve the leisure business. But “La La Land” is particular not due to its plot, however its inventive storytelling. At its core, “La La Land” is greater than only a movie about “chasing your goals.” It’s a movie about how we inform tales, notably in a visible type.

Chazelle employs colours to reveal the development from goals to actuality, a serious theme within the movie. To replicate the brightness and hope of the characters’ aspirations, the start of “La La Land” is saturated with vivid shades of crimson, yellow, inexperienced, and blue; as soon as Mia and Sebastian truly accomplish their targets via sacrifice, nonetheless, the movie’s colours darken, suggesting the aforementioned sense of actuality. 

Moreover, Chazelle, together with the movie’s cinematographer Linus Sandgren, manipulates lighting to point adjustments within the story. On the finish of the movie, he resets the lighting to an earlier type to represent the shift from actuality to a dream sequence the place Mia and Sebastian’s relationship truly succeeds. 

Digital camera course additionally permits Chazelle to spotlight sure features of the subject material. Throughout a scene the place Mia and her roommates attend a celebration to community with “influential” figures in L.A., Chazelle always rotates the digicam course, creating the impression that the leisure business is so esoteric as to be disorienting. 

Maybe probably the most unbelievable a part of this movie is the music. In addition to being splendidly composed, the music straight expresses the themes of “La La Land. Transient but brimming with emotion, the recurring seven-note melody in “La La Land” (composed by Justin Hurwitz), captures the essence of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship: stunning but fleeting. 

Layered with each minor and main tones, the music, “Metropolis of Stars” (composed by Justin Hurwitz, and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), which Mia and Sebastian sing collectively as they put together to make their goals a actuality, displays their conflicting emotions of each doubt and hope. Whereas each appear excited for his or her futures, they nonetheless query if L.A. truly cares about them, singing “Metropolis of stars, are you shining only for me?” 

Moreover, the music to start with of the movie, “One other Day of Solar” (composed by Justin Hurwitz, and lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul), foreshadows the experiences of the characters. Ostensibly, this music appears upbeat, with a quick tempo dominated by trumpets and drums. Nevertheless, the lyrics are much less cheerful — elucidating the “insane” sacrifices many aspiring actors and musicians have needed to make, the music displays on chasing goals “and not using a nickel to [their] identify[s]” and leaving family members behind with a view to transfer to L.A., describing a sense of desperation and even perhaps sorrow. 


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By way of the “upbeat” instrumentals and rhythms in “One other Day of Solar” that conceal the truth of the anxieties of aspiring younger artists in L.A., Chazelle establishes the theme of facades in “La La Land.” In Los Angeles — particularly within the leisure business — every thing appears high quality, even when it isn’t. In actual fact, as Mia and Sebastian observe their goals, they combine facades into their lives. When Mia is rejected from a plethora of roles firstly of the movie, she makes an attempt to cover her disappointment by placing on a “completely satisfied face.” Sebastian’s facade is Keith’s band, which he joins to play music he doesn’t like to save cash to meet his actual goals. 

Clearly, “La La Land” is extra than simply its plot — Chazelle tells Mia and Sebastian’s story, with its themes of goals, actuality, relationships, facades, and sacrifice, by manipulating colours, lighting, digicam course, and music. 

In actual fact, it’s Chazelle’s inventive storytelling that makes the movie excel. If Chazelle had not used the music or the lighting so successfully to complement the story in “La La Land,” then maybe this movie wouldn’t have acquired the widespread acclaim it nonetheless does at present, 4 years after its preliminary launch. In actual fact, many would in all probability dub “La La Land” as trite. However with the purposeful course of the colour palette, the cinematography, and the music, “La La Land” is greater than a movie about goals and the leisure business; the actual achievement of the movie is within the approach the story is advised. By way of watching “La La Land, viewers witness a movie about the best way we inform tales. It’s a movie about making artwork. 

The USG Motion pictures program, sponsored by Undergraduate Pupil Authorities, usually brings movies to the Princeton Backyard Theatre free of charge pupil viewing. This system has tailored to the digital semester by unlocking a brand new film and dialogue matter every Thursday through a Canvas website and by internet hosting a dialogue of the week’s film every Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. All movies may be streamed free of charge by College college students.

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