La La Land (2017) 

After just five minutes into La La Land, I was certain that I was going to hate it. The large ensemble number, titled “Another Day in the Sun” opens the film, with numerous people jumping out of their cars, singing and dancing on a busy L.A freeway. 

I normally keep my distance from musicals, but I decided to give La La Land a chance, a decision I thought I might live to regret after that terribly cheesy opening sequence. But once the film got fully into gear, detailing the lives of struggling actress Mia (Stone), and jazz pianist Seb (Gosling), it became much more watchable, but still not completely defensible or accomplished.

Much of the film’s spark is down to the leads. This is the third film where Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have been paired romantically, following Gangsta Squad and Crazy, Stupid Love. In fact, they are essentially the only reason La La Land caught my eye, because I highly rate them as actors and have enjoyed their previous films. Their characters in Chazelle’s film are paper-thin, yet still likeable and convincing as a couple, but there’s far too much intimate, longing stares into each other’s eyes. I know musical romances are of course gushy and overly sentimental by design, but some instances in the film are just laughable.

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Aside from the stars, the film gets its richness from its colourful heritage. It’s a throwback to classic musicals, providing a nod to the era and celebrating the genre with waves of nostalgia. The film is visually excellent with scenes that are sharply choreographed, yet these delights are let down by the very forgettable songs. La La Land doesn’t have any songs that’ll stick in your head, but instead we are given mostly ballads. The few upbeat numbers that do feature aren’t exactly awe-inspiring.

For a modern-day musical, I was expecting much more imagination than the story we are given. The plot plods along, as Mia auditions for acting jobs, while Seb struggles with life as a musician, playing music he doesn’t like, in order to fund his dream of opening up his own jazz club. There’s no real freshness or intrigue here. It’s an overly simplistic plot and the film clearly aims for crowd-pleasing, rather than offering anything genuinely new. The film’s climax does separate it from traditional musicals, but it would be ridiculous to say a film is great just because it has a good ending.

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So, from where I’m standing, La La Land is a flawed film, but it has moments of excellence that make it worth paying for a cinema ticket. I don’t think it’s a bad film, it’s just simply nothing special. But Chazelle’s revival of a genre that’s been dead in the water for decades, is commendable and deserving of appraisal. Maybe we’ll see more movies in the future restoring life to classical genres that Hollywood has left behind.


Quoted: “People love what other people are passionate about.”
Writen and directed by: Damien Chazelle

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons.

Distributor: Summit Entertainment

Run Time: 128 min


 

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Liam

6 thoughts on “La La Land (2017) 

  1. Good work Liam, I’m in the same boat. I may have liked it just a touch more but that’s academic. Point is, I didn’t think the movie’s rumination on love and “following your dreams” were original in the slightest. It was oh so familiar, which of course isn’t a sin. And Gosling and Stone have great chemistry. A couple musical numbers got my feet tapping but the rest, pretty forgettable, as you said. I gave it a 4/5

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s just not something I think is worth all the hype. Like you say, it’s not that original and the songs are forgettable. It’s just an okay film in my eyes, still well worth watching but I don’t think it will be remembered in years to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good review Liam, spot on about the musical numbers I’d forgotten them once the film had finished.
    I thought it a visually brilliant film although i’m not sure I’ll watch repeatedly like a Singing’ in the rain
    or Grease. I’d give it 3.5 out 5.

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  3. “I don’t think it’s a bad film, it’s just simply nothing special.” Agreed. I honestly thought Hail, Caesar succeeded more at paying homage to old Hollywood than La La Land did. Hail, Caesar created it’s own animal, while La La Land copied it’s predecessors nearly scene for scene.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Liam,

    Lets face it, the film is for women, the ones that follow “Strickly” week after week. I just hate musicals. My eldest sister used to take me to the local flea pit when I was a nipper to see the latest Hollywood musicals. Saw so many (and no other films) I thought that musicals were the only movies that were made! I could give you a long list of these films, but one word sums them all up, BORING! Sorry La La Land lovers, but it is not for me.

    Like

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