La La Land is a nifty little film that’s an ode to lovers and dreamers. It’s a simple enough story between two people and yet much of the film unfolds in song and tune that harks back days of the good ol musicals. Musical numbers and jazz scores fill the linoleum lit bars, the sunset walks down the boulevards and the moonlit peaks of Mulholland Drive; La La Land is a beautiful tribute to the romantics who are hopelessly in love and stubborn in their passions. At the very heart of this modern rhapsody, La La Land’s story is earnest and genuine and it’s style is a colourful melody of music and nostalgia. This is the new age romantic film.
Ryan Gosing and Emma Stone star in this starry-eyed old-fashioned tale told in a modern way. And they are pretty good. Both exude inidividual charisma which, when combined, become greater than their own performances. Their scenes never feel overbearing which helps to secure the film’s genuine intentions. Damien Chazelle’s technical flair is on full display here which is cool but requires the right actors to ground his finesse. La La Land is the sort of film that wants to be jolly and dreamy and yet not lose it’s authenticity. In the end, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling channel the airy fairy vibes that the sunny L.A. musical demands whilst engaging us in the harsh realities of life, the struggle of aspiring artists and the frustrations and dilemmas of clashing aspects of our lives.
I myself am not a huge musical type of person. I mean I do feel the good vibes for a while and that feeling generally lingers on till the end but I can’t say it’s had an impact on me as other genres of cinema. La La Land was one of my most anticipated films of the year, and it’s been doing really well on the awards circuit but I can’t say that I loved it. Chazelle’s musical is still a tad too saccharine for me. It’s inherently sweet nature is oft vibrant,sincere and masterfully choreographed but also outshines the mellow undertones and emotional lows of its characters. It’s a slight pity because the film was doing a good job in basically keeping it real even though it was a musical. I just felt like Chazelle and team sometimes opted to inject song into scenes where dialogue would have been more affecting, and used surreal sequences that overshadowed what I would have liked to have seen in reality. I might get flak for this but the two surreal sequences, one in the observatory and the other right at the end felt slightly forced. In the obseravatory scene, the film opts for magical escapism for real life charm and a bit more spontaneity. The second scene just before the film closes was, to me, a good chance to strip bare the magic from the method and shoot the scene as it was. I just wished the film trusted us to understand the nuances and significance of a mellow moment without showing us a fabricated and surreal dream sequence.
Maybe I don’t come from the golden age of musicals so I don’t exactly appreciate the value of its nostalgia and what it means to bring back something like that to the big screen of today. I enjoyed La La Land and I think it’s a sweet and honest film with some creative directing and fantastic acting performances from its leads (I’m also totally in love with the soundtrack!). But I didn’t think it landed some of its crucial moments. For those who feel like the idealistic motif in musicals is what defines the wholeness and beauty of the genre, La La Land is a near perfect film. But for those of us who want a bit more subtletly and a more lingering shot of reality in favour of surreal blemishes, La La Land is still a good film but not as impacting or affecting as it could have been.
Rating: 8.4/10 I like the film but I don’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, this can be said for many, if not, most movies haha. I just felt the need to point it out given the amount of praise the film has received and the hype around it which I feel is a little misplaced.