La La Land, dir. Damien Cazelle, 2017
As I sit and stare at the screen before me I contemplate how on earth La La Land has gained so much recognition to it leading to more than just a couple Oscar Nominations. If I dwell too hard I’m afraid my face will forever be etched in a ‘wtf’ form, therefore I will begin attempting to understand this alien possibility.
Damien Chazelle has been high up on my praise list due to the wonders of Whiplash, which is why it is unfortunate that this film has been a product of pure style and no substance. I have to admit, it began promising! Bold use of primary colours were sprayed over the screen, a huge choreography and upbeat music number opened the stage preparing us for an extravaganza of applause. To which quickly fell short to a polite clap, if you’re lucky, by the end.
If I begin with positives I can definitely assure you that the mise-en-scene was definitely on point. Colourful backdrops and wondrous settings were a homage to Hollywood classics. I cannot deny that the music in places was brilliant, if not repetitive… a technique perhaps to brainwash us into loving jazz? There was some catchy piano music which, if you removed the clashing singing, was poetic. After witnessing an interview on the Graham Norton Show, BBC I had high hopes to be wowed by the piano music that Gosling taught himself on set! This could be praised if this ‘incredible jazz pianist’ played more than one tune the entire way through…
I would typically like to summarize the plot of a film as a helping hand to the reader, yet I am unsure as to what it was. Sure it swings in the whereabouts of: girl meets boy, both have dreams, both try achieve dreams, ect. but from this amazing Original Musical I would have hoped for a little more depth? What was lacking in Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) was perhaps chemistry and a character background that makes us hope and yearn for these two to succeed. Rather than being left with watching two strangers have copious montage sequences with little substance or emotion. I have a feeling what let Stone down was that her audition scenes mirrored her acting throughout the rest of the film which ruined that cinematic layer for me.
Perhaps I am being harsh… but is this film really deserving of fourteen Oscar Nominations when the main protagonists have little chemistry, there is little story line and the best moment was 3/4 of the way in with a ‘what if’ sequence that showed the entire film in 5 minutes.