La La Land: Worth all the Hype?

By Olivia Rooney

In the last few months La La Land has become one of the most highly anticipated films of the year.  The musical has already won all seven Golden Globes it was nominated for, including best actor and actress for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, has a further eleven nominations for The Bafta’s, the most nominated film this year, and has just been nominated for fourteen Oscars equalling that of Titanic. Oscar nominations include best actor and actress as well as best director for Damien Chazelle, best original score, two nominations for best original song as well as best picture. These are just an indication of the film’s huge success. However, this success has prompted many to wonder is it worth all of the hype: my answer to this question is absolutely it is!


The plot involves an aspiring actress Mia (Stone) and a traditional jazz enthusiast, Sebastian (Gosling), who share a series of comical run-ins before finally giving in to their clear romantic connection.  The story sees Mia suffer a series of setbacks in pursuit of her dream of becoming an actress, including her one-woman-show ‘So Long Boulder City’ being a flop. Similarly, Sebastian is fired from several pianist jobs, so he cannot play the music he wants to in restaurants, clubs and bands. Eventually he sells out in order to make money; a significant issue in the couple’s relationship. There are several ups and downs for the couple; however, their loving and comical relationship is one of dreams as they inspire each other to pursue their goals.

Additionally, the quality of both leads’ performance is high and they’re nominations and wins are well deserved. Gosling learned to play the piano for the role; something you would never guess.The nominated actor seems natural and passionate in the many scenes as he plays both the piano and keyboard for the film’s original songs and when playing an 80’s classic (one of the funniest moments in the film). Furthermore Gosling gives a highly believable performance and brings Sebastian’s clear passion for jazz music to life. His speech explaining his love for the genre to Mia, who “hates jazz,” had me sold as I felt he convincingly portrayed Sebastian’s infatuation with traditional jazz.


Similarly, Stone gives a superb performance of Mia, the dreamer who gets auditions cut short and interrupted but who never gives up, with the help of Sebastian. Stone brings both comedy and ambition to her role, as you feel she shares in Mia’s experience and also feels her pain during each set back. Stone also portrays the pain in staying determined and in the sacrifices the couple make in order to fulfil their dreams. The meeting of this determination and Stone’s natural charisma on camera combine to create a strong character who won’t be easily forgotten.

Another aspect of the film which is exemplary is the remarkable soundtrack and score, which will take you through the entire film feeling what those on the screen feel; hopeful, overjoyed, hurt and love. The expertly written and composed music is unforgettable and there are some future classics in amongst the mix. In particular Mia and Sebastian’s theme which is repeated throughout the movie: it is both euphoric and heartbreakingly beautiful.

If you’re not a classic musical fan I’d urge you to give La La Land a chance, whilst the opening is heavily jazz hand style all singing, all dancing (which I love) the music is cleverly placed throughout the film, and you won’t be rolling your eyes every time a song starts. The transition from speech to music is so seamless La La Land allows for even non-musical fans to enjoy every minute. Furthermore, the choreography is magical, the scene to ‘A Lovely Night’ is now in amongst my all time favourite film scenes; it is light-hearted, provides great comedic value and displays both Stone and Gosling’s natural charm at its best. The romantic flow of movement is aided by the stunning costume choices, the expertly chosen music and the elegantly performed dance by Gosling and Stone; this creates a beautiful chemistry between the characters as well as a seamless symbiosis between all backstage departments who have crafted this film – work which has paid off.

Ultimately, it is easy to say La La Land is many things; self-deprecating in relation to the entertainment industry, a musical, a love story and a beautifully crafted homage to the golden age of Hollywood and its unforgettable classics. What the cast, director and all members of production on this film have made is an instant classic- it is worth every word of the hype it has produced. La La Land promises to take you on a dreamer’s journey accompanied by the heartache and pain which occurs along the path to achieving your goals. La La Land is easily one of those films to watch if you’re in a great mood to make you feel even better, but also one to watch on those days where you need a pick-me-up, it truly is an all rounder. The final moments of the film are extremely poignant and will make you feel a plethora of emotions, something which will stay with you long after you leave the theatre. The escapism La La Land provides a much needed break from modern reality and will not disappoint.

Watch the official trailer at

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Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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