Emma Stone is an aspiring actress in Los Angeles who falls for gifted jazz pianist Ryan Gosling. The two of them try to achieve their dreams whilst keeping their romance going at the same time.
La La Land is really more of a romantic love letter to the classical musicals of days gone by than an actual movie. What I mean by this is that the actual form of this film appears to be more important than the central story it’s telling. Now that’s not to say that La La Land doesn’t have an interesting enough story or good relatable characters. It does. They are just not a crucial to the film experience as the staging or the exquisite camera work or the colouring. As such for me it wasn’t as fully rounded as my very favourite musicals. Wonderful as La La Land is – and it is wonderful – it isn’t West Side Story.
Before I wax lyrical (does that count as a joke?) about everything that La La Land gets spot on, let me first address what I think holds it back slightly. It lacks grit. Now there is nothing wrong with being a feel good movie. There is nothing wrong with your overall message being one of positivity and love. However I think that to truly get this message across effectively you have to feel down first, to then feel happier. In La La Land there aren’t any real lows. The “low point” [Spoilers? Maybe?] is probably when Emma Stone gives up on acting and goes home to her loving parents who welcome her in with open arms to a huge middle class suburban house. Now of course giving up is a low, but we never get to feel that because it lasts for about a minute. The Ryan Gosling turns up and she gets a call back and everything is dandy again. I don’t think it takes away from one’s overall sense of enjoyment from La La Land. But it does stop it from being the masterpiece many are claiming it is.
Both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are wonderful. It takes something to make a musical romance work with actual chemistry, this is a chemistry you saw in abundance during the musical heyday. But more recently it has been more difficult to come by. Stone and Gosling ace that chemistry here and create a fully believable romance. Elsewhere Rosemarie DeWitt is great in another miniscule role.
But in the end it all comes down to the songs. Are they good, are they catchy? The answers are yes and yes respectively. Particularily the wonderful opening number and city of stars. Actually that opening number is probably the best part of the film and really sets you up for the fun to come. And at the end of the day that is exactly what you are going to have. And I think that all of the glowing five star reviews probably set my expectations too high, maybe I expected more than just a great fun piece of entertainment. I don’t know. What I do know is that I had a great time and I’ll be seeing it again.