Oscar-winner Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in Director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, the musical sensation set in modern-day Los Angeles.
In spite of not winning the ultimate Oscar (which went to Moonlight after the excruciating opening-the-wrong-envelope fiasco by a red-faced Warren Beatty) La La Land is undoubtedly going to be one of the films of the year. It scooped a record-breaking seven Golden Globes, five BAFTAs and went on to win five Oscars including Best Actress and Best Director.
Damian Chazelle’s first Oscar success came with Whiplash, his blistering film about a young jazz drummer who thinks he’s made when he lands a place at a top music academy, only to find himself in a living nightmare.
“With La La Land, I wanted to do a love story and I also wanted to create a musical like the musicals that entranced me as a kid, but updated into something very modern,” says Chazelle.Although the music theme continues, La La Land is a very different offering: it’s an homage to the golden age of romantic French and Hollywood musicals.
I wanted to explore how you use colour, sets, costumes and all these very expressionistic elements of Old School movie making to tell a story that takes place in our times. The 30s musicals were very experimental and that was exciting.”
He goes on: “La La Land is a very different movie from Whiplash in many ways. But they both deal with something that's really personal to me: how you balance life and art, how you balance reality and dreams and also, specifically, how you balance your relationship to your art with your relationships with other people.”
La La Land tells the bittersweet story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician. They both struggle to make ends meet in a city known for crushing dreams and breaking hearts. Set in 21st-century Los Angeles, this modern life musical drama explores their joy and pain in pursuing their passions, falling in love and choosing whether to compromise or not.
“To me, it was important to make a movie about dreamers, about two people who have these giant dreams that drive them, that bring them together, but also tear them apart,” says Chazelle
Chazelle also cites the intoxicating French candy-coloured musical Umbrellas of Cherbourg, starring Catherine Deneuve, as a particular influence. “There’s no more formative movie for me than Umbrellas Of Cherbourg. That’s a profound love that I’ve had,” he says.
“I wanted to tell that story using music, song and dance,” he continues. “I think the musical as a genre is a great vehicle for expressing that balancing act between dreams and reality.”