La La Land – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

A light-hearted drama which maybe selling point is a reminder of why musicals used to be a staple in Hollywood’s golden age.

Review (with Spoilers)

Noted Actor(s)

Mia (Emma Stone) & Sebastian (Ryan Gosling)

Storyline

A struggling actress and a struggling jazz pianist. One too many chance encounters lead them to actual pursue each other’s company and make a vested interest in each other. But, like with any film dealing with romance, as things change, dreams are realized or die, can the relationship still survive?

Highlights

Emma Stone

With no shade to Ryan Gosling, this movie was really about Stone. Her charm was on high, those big doe eyes of hers were in full effect, and she had the same comic appeals which made her a star in Easy A. Though what really made this a highlight is Stone wasn’t tasked with trying to break the mold on what we know her for and as. What I mean by that is, she isn’t suddenly trying to pull a Tilda Swinton or Meryl Streep out of her back pocket. She pushes the boundary of what we may expect from her, but not so much that it would look like she is trying to prove something. Like, this film doesn’t seem like she is out here trying to prove she is a serious actress who shouldn’t be pigeonholed. She knows what she is good at and expands on what we are used to seeing by adding song and dance numbers. Alongside giving a bit more depth to her character than we are used to. Allowing you more so to ease into the idea that she may not always choose to be a goof ball, romantic interest, or the supporting role to a stronger character.

The Dance and Music Numbers

To be honest, I wasn’t walking into this movie thinking or knowing it was a musical. I knew Stone would be singing music and Gosling would play a piano, but I wasn’t expecting at least 5 or 6 verbal songs and a lot of jazz music. On top of that, I wasn’t expecting tap dance numbers and things of that nature. But, let me tell you, they were such a welcomed surprise. For while Gosling you expect to be adept at it since he grew up in the house of mouse, Stone does seem like the type with two left feet and who sings off pitch for fun. Plus, you’d kind of expect her to be tone deaf.

Truth is, Stone gives as good as Gosling when it comes to the dance numbers and watching them move together reminds you why, for decades, one of the main exports out of Hollywood were grandeur musicals. For the songs, oh the songs. Whether Gosling’s jazz music, of which a song or two feature John Legend, or listening to Stone sing, you could go from something that makes you want to groove, to perhaps cry, and maybe even want a nap. It’s such a whirlwind that you do get to understand why so many nominations are being announced for this movie and why it is being awarded accolades.

Criticism

One Key Question About Them Goes Unanswered

Conflict is necessary in any movie and with romantic movies, the conflict is usually somewhere out of left field and is usually the low point. This movie, despite everything else, is no different. The problem is, why we are made aware of what may have caused the major rift, but there is no exact detail. Did they grow apart, did their careers just consume so much of their time they broke up and decided to become friends? Friends which kept aware of what the other was doing but didn’t have much communication (think friends you had in high school or college you are connected with on social media but never speak to). This isn’t answered. We are just teased with a possible way the movie could end which for some maybe unrealistic.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing) – Recommended

If I was to be perfectly honest, if Stone wins an award for this it is because of her doing a golden age of Hollywood-style musical and because of her charm. Acting wise, while this character has more depth and consistent growth than her past roles, she isn’t at that point yet where she really grabs you. She is still is one of the most entertaining actresses of this generation, but this is but a taste of what is to come more so than perhaps the best she may ever put out there. As for Gosling, he kind of is forgettable. The movie does its best to keep him from being a second fiddle with bringing in a sister for him, an old friend in John Legend’s character and giving him a life outside Mia, but ultimate Stone eclipses him in almost all aspects outside of the song and dance numbers. In those moments, they are equals and they make this movie more than just another romantic film. They remind you of the actors of yore who could sing, dance, act, and tell a quality joke. Something sorely missed and why I fully expect to probably watch this more than once in my lifetime.

8 comments

    1. Honestly, I don’t think it will. It is sort of like the hype “The Artist” had. Its main source of being so grand is because it isn’t doing what everyone else is doing so much. This isn’t a biopic or features a ton of violence and sex. It is light hearted entertainment and while there is conflicts between characters and internally, it isn’t over dramatic really. Some things don’t make a lick of sense in terms of the usual moment in the lead’s relationship which causes them to need to step back, but when does that moment ever make full sense and not seem a tad bit forced?

        1. Like with Boyhood. Industry hype because it is so different, yet you know if it wasn’t the only one of its kind out there right now, it may not be held in such a high standard.

  1. Iinteresting review thank you, although I cant agree with your assessment of this film. We tend to over-think films and this one should be consumed whole. I think its beautifully filmed dazzling retro musical about young dreams; given the weird world we live in these days, we need musicals like this.

    1. Being that you seemingly watch as many movies as I do, surely you must admit that consuming a film as a whole becomes impossible after awhile. After a certain point, either you become a pessimist and see everything as the same, try to be optimistic and just note the good and try to excuse the bad, or try to balance the two. To me, this film wasn’t perfect. I liked it but, liked in my comments with Society Reviews, it is only because this film is not something churned out year after year.

      I mean, I get the industry hype since Emma Stone is adorable and quirky, without the issues Jennifer Lawrence often has, and Ryan Gosling is the same. But it still has your usual eye roll inducing moment when the couple fights over something, but thankfully avoids the usual ridiculous reconciliation.

      To me, while a beautiful film, a likable film, one I’ll probably watch again sometimes in this life, it is pure entertaining. It is cute, with likable characters, but it won’t put you into tears or nothing like that. It just helps you appreciate what these two actors have been doing well for years and has them take it to the next level.

      1. Thanks for your reply Amari. I’m not convinced that the industry hype is any more or less than other ‘big releases’ with ‘big name’ stars. What is hype-worthy is the revival of the traditional Broadway musical that has been modernised for today’s audiences. A miserable world gave birth to the original musical (wars and depression) and today we have a planet thats also in a bad mood. The musical is a great big happy pill and La La Land signals the genre’s return. Nice swapping thoughts with you.

Questions, Comments, or Opposing Opinion?