La La Land: A Film for All

By Claudia Muratore (University of Virginia)

Even prior to the unexpected drama and excitement surrounding the announcement of Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards, La La Land has been a widely discussed and critically acclaimed film since its release late last year. Its recent showing at the Odeon Theater brings this wildly successful film to Florence, providing a relatively cheap form of entertainment for both English and Italian speakers.

The film opens with an old Hollywood-style song and dance number that entails a massive group performance atop cars in standstill traffic on a Los Angeles highway. An accurate glimpse into the rest of the movie, this opening scene sets the stage for a film that juggles an old Hollywood aesthetic with contemporary characters and problems. The film follows two aspiring artists—Emma Stone as Mia, a hopeful actress, and Ryan Gosling as Sebastian, an ambitious jazz musician— as they traverse the uncertain territory of attempting to break into their respective industries.

The film’s vibrant set and brightly colored props provide an exciting backdrop for the poignant songs, fast-paced tap dances, and witty exchanges that help to tell the story of Mia and Sebastian’s progressing relationship together, as well as their individual endeavors to accomplish their goals. Though neither of the two actors particularly excelled in the singing department, the songs themselves were heartfelt and emotional, adding to the relatability and sympathetic nature of the characters. Emma Stone in particular delivered several standout performances, particularly in her final audition song.

While I personally did not find the plot of the movie to be terribly unique or creative, I think a major saving grace in terms of originality was the ending.

**Potential spoilers ahead** I admired the film’s resistance to a vapid and predictable happy ending in creating a conclusion that was neither overly romanticized nor idealized, but rather a realistic and progressive take on the merit of following one’s own dreams, emphasizing the importance of not forsaking your goals or happiness for the benefit of another. In keeping with the meshing of old and new that the movie encapsulates, this ending places a new spin on an age-old boy-meets-girl plot, with the added benefit of a few catchy songs and dances along the way.

La La Land’s upbeat, yet sympathetic plot makes it a potential hit for all demographics, bringing a fun and genuine story to which most everyone can relate to its audience.

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