This is only the third Hollywood musical I have seen after High School Musical and Les Miserables. While the former was crap, the latter was a masterpiece but the commonality between the two movies was that they were coherent within themselves. That’s what was missing in La La Land, for the first half at least. It’s a good movie overall, with beyond brilliant second half, but only if you are able to survive the first half.
Two people keep bumping into each other on various occasions and eventually fall for each other only to realize that their professional success will come at the cost of their love life. Incidentally, none of them are dishonest but the circumstances bring them at a juncture where they have to pick one. The story is written on a very strong plot but as it gets into the details, it starts falling apart. LA was a near-perfect location to base this story with Ryan Gosling portraying a struggling musician (a Jazz enthusiast), and Emma Stone projecting an aspiring actress with a day job at a coffee shop. The build up of their love affair is totally unconvincing. As far as the first half goes, the scenes do not have much connect between them and the music pieces are abrupt. Just because you have a musical, doesn’t mean you need to have a song every 2 minutes. This movie would have been much better without the musical piece. However, it is the second half where the movie gets far better. The scenes are well thought and the music pieces – especially “City of Stars” and “The Fools Who Dream” – are very profound and apt to the situation.
Ryan Gosling might have squeezed every little drop of his charm into this movie but he came across as a far stronger actor than his counterpart Emma Stone. While the roles weren’t so challenging, the two have been good enough individually. However, for me, the chemistry was somewhat missing between the two actors. I could totally see Jennifer Lawrence in Mia’s role, instead. Apart from these two, none of the other actors have received much screen time to create any impact.
The film rides on quite a strong music and lyrics. It looks a little unnecessary and too much in the first half, except for “Another Day of Sun” which was quite perfect to set the tone of the movie as well as get the audience into an LA mood. However, some of the songs like “City of Stars”, “Epilogue” and “The Fools Who Dream” are so good that you can listen to them on repeat mode.
Damien Chazelle probably took a little too much into his plate with story writing, direction as well as lyrics. While I love the way he steered the movie in the second half, it is the first half where the movie is all over the place and very confusing. The build up of the story is pretty vague. The scenes are very much incoherent and an unconvincing. However, the later part of the movie is good. I loved the choice of climax, especially the last scene with a rewind sequence, which was very unconventional. Full marks to the director for that.
Overall, it’s a watchable movie, if you can sit through the first half.