La La Land
I have never been a big fan of musicals. The cheesy songs, singing every word of dialogue and randomly breaking into dance annoyed me so much that I just avoided watching the genre entirely. I am slowly beginning to come around to them now though, and its in large part thanks to this film. While there are still a lot of films in the genre that I still can’t get my head around, when they are done well, they are really a lot of fun.
I think a lot of the appeal of La La Land for me is that despite it being a film that tries to go out and celebrate the history of Hollywood and musicals, it still doesnt feel like an out and out musical. Its like its still got the training wheels on. The first half really goes all out and from the opening scene tries to celebrate the classic musical and all the singing and dancing that goes along with it. It follows two characters who may be opposites but slowly find their way into love. A classic tale, and a lot of musicals end there with the happy ever after. I like how La La Land does all that but still gets a second half where it slows down on all the singing and dancing and shows how sometimes not everything will always have the storybook ending.
A crucial part that makes this different to me, and yes I know it might be obvious, is the music itself. The film obviously goes out it’s way to celebrate Jazz, no real surprise given Damien Chazelle’s previous work in Whiplash. However the muscial numbers by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are brilliant, the obvious song “City of Stars” is the high watermark but I personally also love “A Lovely Night” and “Someone in the Crowd”. Also crucially they dont sing every line of dialogue, something that always bothers me about films such as Les Miserables.
A big part of why I love this film is the chemistry between the two lead roles. They are perfectly cast and bring out some moments of comedy but they mainly are two likable leads that you cant help but root for. They are so good together that I was really rooting for the obvious ending and was genuinely disappointed in the one we got. Its a ending that is more faithful to the characters and story however this film is so much fun and got me under its spell that, just this once, I was hoping for the cliched storybook ending. Alas it was not meant to be, but I’ll choose to forgive it anyway.