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Double Booked: Two Reviews of ‘La La Land’

We were so enthralled with La La Land here at HCX that we wrote not just one review for the film, but two! 

Jess Yim:

There was only one film which was all the rage at this year’s Golden Globes, serving as the basis of Jimmy Fallon’s opening short, and with the 2017 Oscars coming up, we can guess which one will take the top spot: ‘La La Land.’ From Damien Chazelle, the brilliant writer and director of the film ‘Whiplash’ comes an all new, but old-age Hollywood throwback. Set in modern-day Los Angeles, the film easily balances the juxtaposition of today’s modern society and its pressures, with the traditional values of love in a manner reminiscent of musicals from the 30s or 40s.

Coming out of the cinema, it was hard to describe the film using any other word but romantic – in both senses of the word. Not only is the chemistry between Emma Stone (Mia) and Ryan Gosling (Seb) electric, the setting, the dialogue and the cinematography is incredibly, and ridiculously, romantic. With references to the Golden Age, including James Dean’s planetarium scene in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, the film perfectly encapsulates the magic and wonder of LA, the so-called ‘City of Stars.’ Los Angeles serves not only as the backdrop to the tale, but as the factor which binds the two protagonists together. In Ryan Gosling’s hauntingly beautiful singing of ‘City of Stars’ and the renditions performed by the duo throughout the film, ‘La La Land’ certainly seems to be a love letter dedicated to the city.

Whilst Stone and Gosling are not stellar singers, their simple voices evoke a very real and charming quality to the songs – it reminds us that this isn’t just a musical, it’s a story and relationship of which we are all a part. Listening to the soundtrack instantly takes you back to that dark room sitting next to those strangers, and collectively watching Stone and Gosling tap-dance across a park bench or waltzing among the Griffith Observatory stars.


‘La La Land’ radiates a wonderful quality even just from the title of the masterpiece. It’s a film that strikes the heart in the most uplifting and hopeful way. It will make you believe in love and in your dreams again, and it is the missing piece we never knew we needed on the big screen.


Bryony Watts: 

Hollywood’s newest musical romcom, starring the enthralling Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is taking awards season by storm. They loved it… But did we? The simple answer to that is: Ryan Gosling; playing jazz on the piano; in a suit. Of course we loved that! However, the longer answer throws up more than just the brilliance of Gosling’s suit and tie game:


This movie cannot be viewed as ‘just another romance’ from these two brilliant actors. Where they made us swoon in Crazy, Stupid Love and left our pulse racing in Gangster Squad, La La Land showcases a more serious look at the world of Hollywood romance, simultaneously satirising contemporary movie culture.

Gosling plays the somewhat moody, yet amusing, Sebastian, a down and out musician, dreaming of his own jazz club. Alongside him, Emma Stone’s Mia: a talented actress, struggling to find her way in the maze of castings and auditions. Full to the brim with technicolour scenes reminiscent of the 60s, this film creates an awe-inspiring impression of an ‘other worldly’ experience. Stone and Gosling tap dance, sing and waltz through the two-hour blockbuster, a perfect match for each other and the script. Songs such as “Someone in the Crowd” or “A Lovely Night”, ring in your ears as you leave the cinema, and you wonder- why can’t Exeter’s high street be filled with jazz bands and lit in neon lights too?!

La La Land leaves audiences in high spirits, creating an almost fantasy world. However, the heart-wrenching moments and struggles of the film’s protagonists bring to light the fickle nature of contemporary Hollywood. For us, Emma Stone’s rendition of “The Ones Who Dream” becomes one of the most amazing moments in the film, and her portrayal of a woman struggling in this industry is heartfelt and realistic.

Not only a brilliant, complex and visionary film, La La Land is one of a kind. In our humble opinion, it will possibly leave you with more emotions than The Notebook. (Trust me, tissues are a must!) Gosling and Stone become with this film, not just great, but spellbinding actors.


La La Land is out in cinemas across the UK. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Book your tickets now!


English and French undergrad at the University of Exeter
Third year English student and aspiring journalist! My talents include; successfully quoting almost any Friends episode; getting excited about Christmas in October, (every year without fail), and owning one too many Bobbi Brown lipsticks. I mean, is there such a thing as too many?!
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