Fun, quirky, and a nice blend of novel and nostalgic that together feels fresh.
The only main criticism I have of La La Land is that it thematically feels a bit light. Some statements and ideas about professional ambition over love and for what cost are prevalent throughout - and thus the movie ends on an emotional down note - but I wish there was a bit more to chew on conceptually.
Other than that, a great ride. Fun song and dance, amazing chemistry and charisma from both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and ambitious storytelling and camera work. Surprisingly, a lot of the camera work had significant moments of soft focus, but I suppose with long takes and shooting on film with an ambitious schedule, sometimes you’re left in the camp of what you get is what you get. It’s nice in a way to see a major Hollywood production have some obvious technical production flaws.
Loved the occasional moments of comedy and LA commentary, even if they felt well worn at times (we’ve already heard the joke thousands of times that LA peeps drive Prius’s). There’s even a charm in the well tread parts though, as if through heightened musical this film is codifying that culture - making it classic by surrounding it with song and dance.
The color and choreography were show stealers and the performances carried the movie. A fun love-torn whirlwind that’s a fun watch. The film nicely portrayed the bushy-tailed optimism that’s necessary in LA, as well as the relationships that you don’t settle in, but that still very much define you. The “one that got away” may be better traded out for the “one I loved before I was famous.”
The concept resonates with the modern ambitious romantic in myself I think - the balance between self actualization and love are often at odds. Which do we pick? If there a right answer? La La land seems to tell us to pick love, but acknowledges that happiness and success can happen either way. So it matters, but at the same time it doesn’t because all it takes is that one nostalgic song to remember what you had and what you could have had. It’s the imagination and optimism that’s baked into show business that keeps us coming back.
Music holds all the promise of love - exciting and fleeting and unfortunately short lived. La La land does a nice job of compressing the appeal of show business and the difficulties of love and reminding us that love and life stings but that’s why we sing.
Too syrupy of a take? Possibly. But that’s the movie. It’s optimism even through bitter turns.