This film swept the floor at the Critic’s Choice Movie Awards, Golden Globes AND the Academy Awards (Oscars). Naturally, I therefore had high expectations. For those yet to see it, I’ve decided to do an honest breakdown of what I thought.
La La Land stars Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) and Emma Stone (Mia), who have in the past starred together in the romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid Love. The banter between these two characters made me smile throughout. Although, I’ve only really seen Gosling play reserved characters, Stone seemed in her zone with her character Mia who is goofy, passionate and dreamy. The scene where she is dancing to the music Gosling’s jazz ensemble is playing, was a great highlight.
Of course, this is a musical so it wouldn’t make sense for me to review it w/o mentioning how I felt about the vocals and soundtrack. Emma and Ryan don’t have the most exceptional voices in the world but I felt this made it sincere and translated the emotion much better. For soundtracks buffs I would recommend ‘City of Stars’ by Gosling and Stone and ‘The Fools who dream’ by Stone.
Throughout the film bright vivid colours flood the senses, mixed with nice American scenery. This gives a fantasy element to it all- a feeling sealed by the repeated scene of the two main characters dancing along a star studded background. This is certainly a film built for aesthetics and that ‘feel good’ factor- there (to me) isn’t any hidden or embedded meaning we should be looking for. I state this specifically because before watching the film I did read a review talking about the White erasure of Jazz’s black history. Watching it now, I disagree simply because I take La La Land to be a surface level film. It wasn’t trying to enact history and therefore does not need to carry the burden of historical accuracy.
Personally, I saw the film as a fight between reality and dreams, with Mia and Sebastian’s relationship on the border of the two. Mia tries throughout the film to reconcile her dreams with reality in terms of her relationship with Sebastian and her theatrical dreams. In contrast, Sebastian puts his dreams on hold when reality calls.
Overall, this film certainly makes an enjoyable watch; I would say 4.8/5. My only criticism would be that there could have been a clearer direction for the film in terms of plot. I can’t even say the plot’s quality is sacrificed for character development because I didn’t see huge character transformation (of even Mia or Seb) within the film. I mean, yes, their circumstances definitely do change by the end but whether they themselves do is not really known. Nevertheless, despite the deliberate uncertainty at the end you can leave the cinema feeling satisfied; which is all that matters in the end, right?
*Picture from: http://www.empirecinemas.co.uk/synopsis/la_la_land/f5293 *