This review will contain spoilers so if you haven’t seen La La Land, this may not be the review for you. You may want to head over to Rotten Tomatoes or IMDb.
I was very excited to see this movie after I saw the trailer. Being a fan of musicals, and an obvious fan of movies, I thought this would be right up my alley. Once I saw Damien Chazelle was directing, I knew it was a must see movie. I loved his film Whiplash and was excited to see his style in this music-heavy film.
Before seeing this movie, I asked a friend and former teacher of mine what he thought of the movie. His opinion made me skeptical. In summary, he said to someone who doesn’t see musicals or work on musicals regularly, this movie would be incredible. But to someone who has had some background in theatre, this might be a bit disappointing.
I absolutely agree with him. The musical aspect of the movie was very lack-luster. The opening didn’t seem to match the rest of the movie, the numbers were unevenly spread out, and the songs themselves weren’t all that great. There was what felt like 45 minutes to an hour with no musical number at all. To go along with the disappointing musical songs, the choreography just wasn’t exciting. The big tap number between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling seemed underwhelming when there was so much potential.
That being said, if this movie didn’t have its musical aspect, this could be one of my favorite movies of all time. I absolutely adored this movie. Just the story alone was captivating to me. It’s truly hard to write a complex love story that is relatable, strong, and actually good. This love story was beyond good, it was heart-wrenching, endearing, and forces you to care. I think Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were perfect for their roles. Stone is usually good at playing the sarcastically realistic character while Gosling seems to thrive as the misunderstood love-stricken character. This movie was no exception. They really became their characters and had a hold on me throughout the entire movie.
The cinematography was unique, the sets were fun, the theming was detailed, everything just came together to create this lively movie, even in scenes so still that forced you to hold your breath with tension. The music in this movie gave it another dimension of life. If this movie had simply been jazz heavy, that just included singing jazz songs maybe with a musical number for Mia (Emma Stone) when she’s having her big audition, this movie could have had that unique quirk that still sells while not struggling to make this story fit into those few musical numbers.
Overall, I have to give this move a three and a half out of five stars only because I was disappointed with the musical side of it. While I wasn’t in love with the entire movie, if I were ever to make a movie, I would want it to be much like this one. A great story, incredible technical aspects, and a cast that fully embodies the characters. Damien Chazelle did it again, and I’m very excited to see what comes next.