Well, that’s what I thought I was going to say.
Overrated, maybe? But as much as I tried to resist the crazy hype train, I still couldn’t help but fall for this highly watchable and entertaining romp.
A jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) falls for an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) in Los Angeles.
The opening sequence did nothing to win me over. Despite director Damien Chazelle’s opening credit titles and Cinemascope capture mimicking the days of old; it was too much.
People jumping out of their cars, free-runners . . . free-running, the word ‘chaotic’ doesn’t come close. I couldn’t even hear the lyrics being sung.
All that was missing was a truck with some bongo players in the back . . . Oh, wait, no. There they are.
The soundtrack was a little disappointing. The first two or three songs were highly unmemorable.
Chazelle’s disorienting camera work and ever-growing ensembles combined with his incredibly mad and colourful palette felt like a shot of insulin being given to a caffeine addict. Overkill.
However . . .
I will admit. I’m not the biggest fan of Gosling and Stone. There’s just something about them that grate against me. The Help and The Nice Guys being exceptions.
BUT once the couple were finally brought to the fold, my grumbling was subdued.
Both caught up in their own testing life struggles from Mia’s awkward cringe-inducing auditions to Seb accomplishing his dreams of running a jazz bar.
The concept was hardly original. The focal point of the piece was just like any other musical. A love story.
BUT despite its predictable nature, Chazelle managed to cross exam a relationship from its crazy highs to its downbeat lows. All aided by fantastic chemistry between two brilliant leads and a good script.
I didn’t realise Gosling could play the piano. He was fantastic. City of Stars was probably the only song that I (annoyingly) can’t stop whistling. That blasted piano rift!
I thought the pair’s singing was very good. Considering they aren’t professionals, they sung very well. Stone’s rendition of Audition was excellent.
In all fairness, I would have been happier to watch more of their dancing. A Lovely Night was a bit of a weak song BUT with Justin Hurwitz’s score and the duo’s late night toe tapping dance in the dusk, I was entranced.
The whole thing had a slight air of Astaire and Rogers about it.
That was until their beautifully shot ballroom dance in the Griffin Observatory. Dancing in the stars. Cheesy but a nice touch with a fitting nod to A Rebel Without A Cause.
I knew the Whiplash director would sneak jazz into the mix. The only problem was that I’m NOT the biggest fan. I’m sure Seb would have a few choice words to say about that. For those who’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean.
There were some good songs BUT it all felt a little samey to me and the pace was starting to test. If it wasn’t for Gosling’s (and Chazelle’s) enthusiasm, I would have found all the jazz trivia a little dull.
BUT I was engaged in the couple. We watched their romance blossom over the seasons as their paths crossed time and time again. Fate playing its little game.
Laughing as they inevitably fell in love and wincing as the strain of their busy lifestyles took its toll. We could all relate to moments that the pair experienced.
The epilogue was unexpected. Just when I thought I had the film pegged, Chazelle managed to surprise. And not even the Twitter references and endless memes spoiled what was a wonderfully captured and fitting swansong.
The set design, the layout, the choreography. Fantastic.
The hype may have hindered. From all the astounding comments you’d think people hadn’t seen a musical before?!
I’m not saying I’m the biggest musical fan. BUT I don’t hate them either. West Side Story, On The Town, Chicago, Singin’ In The Rain, Moulin Rouge are classics I could watch again and again (Bet you weren’t expecting me to name those titles).
As much as I enjoyed this, I wouldn’t rush to make a special trip to see it again.
La La Land certainly celebrated the much missed presence of an absent genre. I tried to compile a list of musicals in the last decade. Not many came to mind; Frozen, Sing Street (A must watch) and . . . shudder . . . High School Musical.
As much as I felt this may have been over-hyped by awards buzz, it was still an entertaining watch from two underrated actors.
Unless you’re completely anti-musical. If so then why you are here?