Musical masterpiece lands Emma Stone her first Oscar.
By Gabriel Kucinski (‘18)
Who knew Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone could sing? Neither he nor she is a natural singer, yet they each humanely and triumphantly take on every song they sing. Their ranging, pitch-mastering vocal chords left the audience amazed and speechless, both appreciating and envying the stars’ never-before-seen talents. The actors should also take pride in their dancing, which in every scene seemed to have been sharply choreographed.
In the musical romance La La Land, Gosling plays Seb, a struggling piano player who insensitively dismissed a congratulations from Mia, played by Stone, on his performance at a restaurant he worked at. That is not, however, the first time they met. The two were originally acquainted when Mia drove directly in front of Seb in a traffic jam. By flipping through lines for an audition she’d have later that day, Mia managed to significantly frustrate Seb, who seemed to be in a frantic rush. From this first foreshadow, the audience becomes sure the two will cross paths again.
Gosling’s lonely, LA-dreaming Seb spends absolutely all his money failing to open a jazz club in the city, as Stone’s vulnerable, witty Mia auditions for what seem like dozens of parts, including one where she waits to perform in a room packed full of red-headed, freckled women, giving her absolutely no stand-out quality.
Sometimes being the outlier is necessary for an actor to receive any parts. Other times, like when Mia auditions as an African American inspirational teacher, sassily reciting the lines, “No Jamal – you be tripping,” being the outlier is an actor’s downfall.
Mia’s vivaciousness brings the movie to life, emotionally engaging the audience by advocating for Seb’s happiness and success, all while creating her own one-woman play and constantly attending auditions. Mia’s tears do not block her doey eyes, but instead engage us all to cry alongside her.
Concerning Gosling, he has truly established an excellent persona as an actor who has evolved from his “comfort-zone,” comedy. Seb is rugged, determined, and sarcastic, especially in his ways of trying to conceal how powerful his love for Mia is.
There’s one scene towards the end of the film where Seb and Mia stroll through the Warner Brothers back lot, within walking distance of Mia’s part-time job at a coffee shop. Mia mentions the window from which Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart looked out onto the city in Casablanca. Can we not respectively, inspiredly place Stone and Gosling in that league? It did win Emma Stone her first academy award, after all.