So. The time has come.
Pretty much every reviewer everywhere is gushing over this film.
It’s won loads of awards already and will probably win more.
Critics call it gorgeous, wonderful and spectacular…
I say it’s really great.
Not incredible, or groundbreaking, not even fantastic, which is my usual verbal sign that I give when a film totally blows me away. However the most accurate word I can use for La La Land is ‘Delightful’.
The film opens up on the crowded congested motor way of Los Angeles where almost immediately a song and dance number breaks out among numerous colourfully dressed commuters concerning, I think dreams? or hope?
Enter nit pick number one: the songs are good but not very memorable.
But that’s ok because this scene is expertly shot and really sets the tone of the fim.
We soon meet both Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress working in a coffee shop and Seb (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist longing for his own jazz club.
They meet however, on the same motorway and after a brief but angry confrontation and we’re left wondering how they are going to meet. It ends up being in some restaurant with Seb breaking away from his jazz piano setlist put in place by cameo J.K Simmons and letting loose with some free improvisation (but was he rushing or was he dragging?).
But instead of a cliché meet and greet, Seb actually shoulder barges Mia out the way after being fired being some kind of jazz maverick. This right away should let everyone know that this isn’t going to be your run of the mill romance.
Both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have worked together before which shows as their chemistry is great, and their blossoming relationship works.
Emma Stone’s acting is literally perfect, with some great turns of emotion when she’s auditioning, with one near the end becoming a fantastic show case of her singing (literally no idea how that tune went though). Ryan Gosling is also good but isn’t really as powerful to me in both acting and singing. Though both are great dancers; they’re no pair of Gene Kelly’s but they’re great nonetheless.
A highlight no doubt inescapable from literally everyone is the car park song and dance routine as the sun rises.(Again, no idea how that song goes).
You’ve definitely seen that shot, the one with their hands in the air mid step?
It’s literally the photo accompanying this review.
Well that whole sequence is beautiful and really got me on board for this film.
How sad that it’s only misstep really brings the film down from being fantastic: the story.
Apart from the romance and the dancing, there’s not really a lot that the film has to say, and the things it does present to us I take issue with.
Mia wants to be an actress, however she tells her tale of writing plays to Seb and like the best boyfriend he encourages and persuades her enough for her to follow through with a one woman theater show.
Seb wants to run his own jazz club, however he has no money until John fricking Legend appears out of nowhere, gives him an extremely well paying job, and he becomes part of a really popular jazz fusion band. Seb is unhappy about the fusion part but as John Legend rightly puts the case forward that jazz won’t reach new heights and audiences if it’s stuck in the past.
This just slows the film way down.
We go from great dance and musical numbers (still can’t remember those songs) to this slog of band practicing and general band stuff that I really didn’t care about.
That is until Mia out of nowhere turns into an arsehole and gets angry for Seb not opening his jazz club already which completely jarred with me. Like it’s been a couple of months give the guy a break. Seb’s out there getting $1000 a week before ticket prices, merch and record sales, sorry if he doesn’t really feel like giving that up anytime soon.
Luckily the films positives are in spades.
It looks so gorgeous, using painted backdrops and gorgeous lighting, it was just a pleasure to just look at let alone experience. The dance routines are beautifully choreographed and clearly a lot is a homage to the old MGM musicals that I know and adore. I was waiting for tap dancing and I got it, I was waiting for the finale dream sequence and I got it.
But again this brings me right back to the story, more specifically the ending.
A lot of people are praising this ending but I really don’t see it.
Mild spoiler: it’s not strictly a happy one, but they sure do go to the trouble of showing you a happy one.
I thought the film was great and I’d definitely re watch for the singing, dancing and visuals.
It’ll win some Oscars but after a pretty disappointing story, I really don’t think it should.
La La Land: 7/10