I’d heard a decent amount of buzz before going to see La La Land. Critics gave it good scores, my friends and family were raving about it, and it even won a bunch of Golden Globe awards.
A lot of hype to live up to and while it was a very good movie it ultimately did not meet my inflated expectations.
I went into the movie only knowing it was a romance staring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Stone plays an aspiring actress/barista in Hollywood. Gosling plays her love interest
, an aspiring jazz pianist in Hollywood. Typical romance movie stuff.
Outside of the typical romance movie, I was surprised to learn that La La Land is a musical!
Unfortunately, most of the songs didn’t appeal to me for two basic reasons.
About half the songs felt like they didn’t advance the plot. I feel like that’s a critical flaw in most musicals. If it doesn’t serve a narrative purpose why keep it in the movie? Coupled with a slowly paced movie… it didn’t keep me excited. I found myself thinking about my stock portfolio at points during the movie rather than paying attention to the lyrics and the emotion behind them.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, amazing as they are at acting, did not come across as amazing singers. I looked into their backgrounds to see if they had experience singing, turns out they both do, so it wasn’t on account of inexperience or lack of training. I think what I gauged as a average performance might’ve been a stylistic choice. Most of the music I listen to has “cleaned” voices where all the little tiny errors are removed to leave a perfect sound. La La Land may have avoided that type of cleaning to give a more authentic performance and to have a more honest emotional feeling to the song. That said, I did not like the final product.
The acting was phenomenal! No complaints there. Stone and Gosling dove into their roles wholeheartedly.
The choreography for the dance numbers was also quite good. Most of the dances were filmed in a way to make it appear as if they were done in one shot. The camera moved around with the dancers, weaving in and out and circling. Great stuff.
Unfortunately, all that fancy camera work wasn’t matched by great cinematography. There were numerous shots where I was thinking, “Why did they leave that element out? It’s right there and they could’ve included it by framing the shot differently!” The cinematography was actually just fine, I just held it to a higher standard considering what I’d heard about the movie. Cinematography is an important part of movie watching for me which is partially why Kurosawa and Hitchcock are my two favorite directors.
That’s about it. I know the movie’s been out for awhile, so perhaps this review won’t be that helpful for people. My advice to those who are still considering going: If you haven’t gone to it by now, it’s probably not the right movie for you. Save your money or see something else.