Why I didn't exactly go ga-ga for La La Land

By Michael Upton | 13/02/2017

Why I didn't exactly go ga-ga for La La Land
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land

AFTER all the buzz, the plaudits and the award nominations, I thought I best find out if La La Land was all it's cracked up to be.

One critic described it as “perfection”, so it had to be something pretty special right?

Well, forgive me if I beg to differ, for while Damien Chazelle’s tribute to the magic of jazz and the importance following your dream occasionally takes flight, it’s some way from the soaring triumph I had been led to expect.

I really wanted to love it, too — I've always had a soft spot for a good musical and rated the charisma and versatility of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.

But perhaps La La Land suffers from trying to do too much, from being a little too “jazz” in the sense that it twirls off on a few too many tangents and loses its focus.

That’s not to say it's without its great moments for when it’s good, it’s really good.

The high points are the musical segments, particularly the dance sequences.

One, which sees stars Stone and Gosling musically sparring while dancing together on a hillside, is one of the year’s most memorable scenes, while another based at LA’s spectacular observatory is literally out of this world.

The whimsical main song City of Stars is romantic and hummable, too, and Stone and Gosling both excel as aspiring actress/would-be playwright Mia and  jazz pianist Seb.

They have solid, believable chemistry as they trace Mia and Seb’s developing romance and the obstacles thrown in their way by new opportunities in their professional lives.

But for a film at its best during fantasy sequences and mass ensemble dance routines, there’s just a little too much reality, with a few forgettable scenes, an extended period of separation for the central couple and a slightly underwhelming ending.

Mia and Seb’s story is one which asks to be told, and I would have loved to see La La Land join the list of great musicals.

But sadly it’s neither great, nor truly a musical.

It’s nice enough, with plenty of “wow” moments, great, colourful costumes and cinematography and a strong showing from its two leads, but it did leave me feeling it could have been so much better.

 

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