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La La Land: A Step in the Right Direction

by J Nagle

Ryan Gosling and Emma Watson’s characters walking down the streets of Los Angeles

One of the more recent drops on Netflix is Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, released in late 2016. The plot may seem similar to those who viewed Chazelle’s more recent film, Babylon, from 2022. The films are two sides of the same coin, La La Land having a more positive perspective on the experience of stardom while Babylon focuses on some of the darker aspects that come with it, as well as the entertainment industry as a whole. While some of Babylon‘s horrors stretch themselves out during the film’s 3 hour runtime, La La Land‘s brisk pacing and dynamic, immersive scenes make for one of the quickest 2 hour films to watch.

Ryan Gosling, currently in the spotlight for his performance as Ken in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, plays Seb Wilder, an ambitious pianist down on his luck who’s moved to Los Angeles to fulfill his dreams. He stars alongside Emma Watson who plays Mia Dolan, an equally ambitious actress who craves some of the same stardom Gosling’s character does. As the two are shown in their own separate storylines fighting for their lives in the industry, the two are also shown alone together, fighting with each other for what stardom really means to them. Damien Chazelle’s emphasis on location as character in these moments is crucial to making each line, motion, and expression feel so integral to its respective scene.

The supporting cast includes names such as John Legend as well as J. K. Simmons, the latter of whom some may recognize from his performance in Chazelle’s first feature film, Whiplash, both of whom play key roles in Seb’s story early on.

La La Land is now streaming on Netflix.