Boy meets girl meets the up-ending aspirations of the city of stars – and they all break out of the conventions of everyday life as LA LA LAND takes off on an exuberant song-and-dance journey through a life-changing love affair between a jazz pianist and a hopeful actress. At once an ode to the glamour and emotion of cinema classics, a love letter to the Los Angeles of unabated dreams, and a distinctly modern romance, the film reunites Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, bringing them together with rising writer/director Damien Chazelle (the Oscar®-winning Whiplash.)
The film begins as everything begins in L.A.: on the freeway. This is where Sebastian (Gosling) meets Mia (Stone), with a disdainful honk in a traffic jam that mirrors all too well the gridlock they’re each navigating in their lives. Both are focused on the kind of near-impossible hopes that are the lifeblood of the city: Sebastian trying to get people to care about traditional jazz in the 21st Century, Mia aiming to nail just one uninterrupted audition. But neither expects that their fateful encounter will lead them to take leaps they never could alone.
The leaps they both make, towards each other and, conflictingly, into their grandest artistic dreams, creates its own quintessentially cinematic world of rapture in LA LA LAND – one that with light, colour, sound, music and words takes a trip directly into the ecstasies of the happiness we chase… and the heartache of the passions we never get over.
Says Chazelle: “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.”
LA LA LAND itself began with a crazy dream. Chazelle wanted to see if he could make a film that channels the magic and energy of the most poignantly romantic French and American musicals of filmmaking’s Golden Age … into our more complicated and jaded age.
Says Chazelle: “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. I wanted to explore how you use color, sets, costumes and all these very expressionistic elements of Old School movie making to tell a story that takes place in our times.”
Chazelle was also uniquely inspired by the films of Jacques Demy, the French New Wave director who broke the hyper-serious 1960s mold with intoxicating, candy–coloured musicals such as The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort and A Room In Town. “Demy’s probably the single biggest influence not just on this movie but on everything I’ve done or wanted to do. There’s no more formative movie for me than Umbrellas Of Cherbourg. That’s a profound love that I’ve had,” Chazelle says.