Will practice make perfect for La La Land star?
La La Land actor Ryan Gosling says he had two choices when making the Oscar nominated movie – learn to play piano or “shatter the dreams” of director Damien Chazelle.
“Damien wanted to shoot the dance sequences and some of these songs all in one shot, there was no opportunity to cut in a piano player – so unless I wanted to shatter his dreams I had to sit down and apply myself.”
The star, who’s nominated for best actor at this Sunday’s Academy Awards, certainly put the leg work in.
He and co-star Emma Stone spent three months mastering dance routines, singing and religiously practising the piano.
Their efforts have certainly paid off. A throwback to film’s golden age, the movie has proven a box-office smash having already made over $ 300m worldwide.
But are critics right to be making such a song and dance about it?
Millie Taylor, professor of musical theatre at Winchester University, believes Gosling’s piano prowess was helped quite a bit by how the score itself is written.
“It’s been written in a way that makes it very straight forward to learn, so, for example, you can actually play one whole phrase without moving your hand once – those are the tricks that a good writer will be able to use, that make it much easier for someone to play.”
The film’s dancing certainly has an air of effortlessness about it.
Choreographer Mandy Moore, who had the task of training the film’s leads to dance, said Gosling wasn’t trying to compete with Fred Astaire’s finesse.
“Luckily for Ryan and Emma they were not supposed to be Fred and Ginger.
“They were always supposed to be real people moving. From where they were early on, I look back and I think I can’t believe they did that.”
Beyond the hype, it is for most of us, at the very least, a refreshing escape from the real world. Will it stand the test of time though?
Professor Millie Taylor isn’t convinced: “I thought it was a little bit dull, they missed the excitement of really great singing and dancing. If you don’t have that then a story that’s relatively slight, which it is, it just disappears and becomes a bit banal.
“It’s a piece of Hollywood fluff that people are enjoying at the moment, a little romantic comedy.”
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