La La Land tells the story of a jazz pianist who falls in love with an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
This is one of those films that requires some thought afterwards, but not the amount of afterthought and re-watching like that of ‘Arrival.’ It was mainly due to the fact that the film really delves into what could have actually been and possibly too overloaded with nostalgia that it became too much. To this moment, it’s hard to put a finger on what made this film not as enjoyable as what it could’ve been or what others had found it.
Maybe it was the pacing, because the times that the phone was checked to see what time it was, it was a lot earlier then it was expected to be and the film hardly close to finishing. And this could be linked to the fact there’s hardly much tension in the first hour or so of La La Land as much of the film is based on two characters who just happened not to like each other in a typical rom-com type of way. THe cliches are fine if something new is brought to the table instead of just reliving the past.
Or maybe it was the very tonally different frill from beginning to end. It was very very musical at the beginning while at the end, the numbers had become almost non-existent and irrelevant to the progression of the main storyline. La La Land could’ve done without being musical and did what director Damien Chazelle did with his previous effort in ‘Whiplash’ to make it that much more of a stronger piece, especially tonally. Even if that weren’t the case of completely removing the music, making the film more of a balanced musical like other successful stage to musical adaptions like Chicago or Hairspray.
Or maybe it’s because there’s hardly much of a story in the first place and the thinly stringed together plot is only a frame to hang the musical set pieces on. It so badly wants to be a string of pearls but fails so badly because it didn’t spend enough time marinating in the clam of development to become the hit it desired to be. But when half those musical set pieces are mediocre at best and barely as shoe-tappingly catchy as the should be, we’re left with awkward waits until the next musical set piece occurs. Half the the scenes in between hardly deep or further the story and thus making them ultimately redundant. It really makes you aware of the fact that you’re in the cinema watching a film instead of being enraptured by the experience of the story and transported into a different world with the feeling of wanting more when the credit’s started to roll.
Whatever it was, La La Land tried to make itself a musical fantasy while entrenching itself too much in realism that we, as the audience, couldn’t suspend our disbelief. There were good moments of the film, sure, like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s first meeting in LA traffic and when he walks her to the car after a party. The pair also have incredible on screen chemistry and whatever their relationship accounted to would be believable. What doesn’t seem that engaging was the characters lacking the connection needed to take the audience on a journey through the film.
It’s as if La La Land tries too hard to be a musical of long gone that starred the likes of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly with the voices of Frank Sinatra or Barbra Streisand. It fails to reach that mark and by no means comes even close to be compared. It’s an auteur’s film that so desperately ties to be something that it’s not.
The film only looks good if you’re a fan of splash over saturated colour much like that of Pushing Dasies but the voices aren’t strong ones — Gosling and John Legend have the strongest voices. That’s because singing is where they started out. Stone sounded like a half-hearted breathy whisper that you could barely hear with no emotion. She’s an amazing comedic actress but an actress she is. As a singer, she’s a definite pass.
If you want to watch an amazing film by director Damien Chazelle, watch Whiplash That will have you standing on your feet and egging the characters on as they fight for what they want and what they believe in. With this outing, you’re definitely not doing that. You’re watching with boredom to see where the characters go next. Do they want to be with each other? Will they make the time for their relationship to work? There’s nothing that makes you want to root for them and that makes you want to invest your emotions into.
Whatever the critics say, it’s for the nostalgia reasons why they loved this film so much.