Hot Take: Whimsy. Different. It’s a musical that pays homage to musicals of the past in spirit but not context. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are a dynamic duo.
Admittedly, La La Land got off to a slow start for me. I wasn’t as enthralled with that opening number as the rest of the movie going world was. However, there was a specific point where the film flicked a switch with me and there was no turning back. I was in love with everything about the film from that point on.
As Mia (Emma Stone) ran into Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) at an insipid Hollywood party. It’s the third time they cross paths and this time our wide eyed aspiring actress who has already had two less than stellar run-ins with our struggling Jazz musician sees him humiliatingly stuck playing synth pop 80s music. This isn’t the start of their eventual romance but it is where you see the charisma of both characters gush over the screen. They eventually part but you can’t wait to see them back together again.
Between the electricity between Stone and Gosling, the random song-and-dance numbers and a film that has much originality as it does nostalgia, there is so much to enjoy. It’s not without gravity, either, despite that scene where the pair float through the air dancing on a date at a Planetarium. La La Land dreams as big as its characters ask each other to dream. It’s purely whimsical to watch.
Seriousness sets in during the third act as it becomes as jazzy as Gosling’s Seb. The riff director Damien Chazelle takes is fantastic and even a little bittersweet. It feels as if you watch it again, you might get a completely different ending.
For all of the Awards talk, there’s plenty this film should get recognition for. Nominations for both Gosling and Stone seem appropriate. The original score and song can be chiseled on the nomination stone as well. As for Best Picture, it might be a little more than it deserves although a nomination is reasonable. Chazelle should get a nod for his direction at least and possibly the screenplay, too.
With all of the sobering films of Awards season, La La Land is a refreshing alternative. It’s great to have your emotions moved but when it’s done while getting you dancing in your seat, that’s a pretty impressive feat.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Gosling & Stone
The pair have appeared on screen before and their comfort level with each other is evident. They are flawless on screen together and withstand the film’s rare lags.
- Song & Dance
Unlike other attempts in the past two decades to reignite the musical genre, La La Land has something special that differentiates it both from those attempts and the musicals of the past but maintains the spirit of those musicals.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Opening
The opening isn’t bad but it’s jarring. It takes a while to get settled in and the way this film starts never lets you get settled properly.