La La Land was a good story: clever, beautiful, funny, but it wasn’t for me.
Now don’t get me wrong, La La Land was a pleasant ride while it lasted, but in the end it left me wanting. And that’s not what a truly remarkable story should do, in my opinion. The more Oscar nominations it got and the more people remarked about how dreamy it was, the more flaws I saw within its narrative and execution.
First of all, I don’t think there was enough chemistry between the actors.
No, you say.
Yes, I say.
There was no genuineness in their love. I went into this movie hoping to fall in love alongside the characters and enjoy enchanting music like I did in Singing in the Rain but I just couldn’t. There wasn’t a moment where the magic clicked, the worlds collided, the heart beat faster, the actors weren’t able to make me believe in their true love for each other (and maybe that was the point all along). They didn’t even portray ambition realistically. All of the intense moments that were supposed to show characters struggling were glossed over and lost amidst the montage sequences. Sadly, the emotions never touched me and that was one of the biggest reasons, the story didn’t work for me.
The second flaw lay in the director’s attempts to fit reality with the dreamy quality of old Hollywood film. So, while a lot of the stuff in the movie was portrayed somewhat realistically, there were many moments that didn’t fit the bill. And I’m not talking about the dancing in the stars (that was one of those moments where I actually could suspend my disbelief). No, I’m talking about Mia and Seb’s lucky breaks that launched them both into their dreams. No matter how you slice it, it’s just not very believable, especially when we haven’t really seen them struggle. And maybe if Chazelle wasn’t trying so hard to fit in the real life harshness of Hollywood with the perfection of films from the golden age of the industry, I wouldn’t mind it so much. But since he set up certain expectations of a happy ending with the opening number and didn’t deliver on those expectations, I was left a little upset.
Another unrealistic aspect was the portrayal of LA. And I don’t mean the perfectly lit sequences of La La Land that were shot in the studio, I mean the times that they went out and filmed on location. The streets were empty and there was very little variety in people that graced the background. For all the reality the film wanted to portray, most of the time everything felt too contained.
And finally, another aspect of the movie that was unrealistic was the lack of communication between the two characters in this age of technology. Where are the text messages, social media, Skype, for goodness’ sake. If Mia is an actress, she would have social media. In fact, she would be doing much more than just working at a cafe on Warner Bros. lot to get her career going. And Sebastian would be learning about business and being an entrepreneur, which would also require the use of social media and internet. So it’s pretty unrealistic to think that after the two separated, they never kept in contact (it’s not like their relationship ended with a horribly, painful breakup that both of them couldn’t get over). One would think, they’d call each other and try to hold on to their love. I know many people who do.
And third and final flaw was the way the musical aspect was shown (but maybe it’s just me). While the film had gorgeous cinematography and beautiful songs, I thought the musical numbers were too short, not enough to capture my heart and keep me whistling the tune long after the movie was over. By all means, this isn’t the biggest flaw and maybe there will be more musicals in the future that incorporate music the way La La Land did (in short outbursts of real-life rhythm) but for me, it just didn’t work.
Also, am I the only one to think that an African-American actor would have been a better fit for Sebastian than Ryan Gosling? It just would have added much more depth to the story, seeing as jazz was rooted in the African-American communities, and would have felt much more magical and real.
All in all, La La Land is a good watch but it isn’t good enough for all the hype that it’s getting.
However, I would recommend it to people who haven’t seen it yet because many others who weren’t me did enjoy the movie and I wouldn’t want to let my rant keep you from discovering the magic for yourself (after all everyone is different and you may see enchanting sparkles where I saw none).
Come back every Wednesday for more gif riddled reviews.