La La Land review by Drusilla Blakey
It seems over the last few years that musicals have been making a big comeback both on TV and the big screen. The trailers for the latest La La Land screamed old Hollywood and featured a great cast including Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, Rosemarie Dewitt, Tom Everett Scott and J.K. Simmons, but does it capture the magic that it sets out to find or will it miss its que?
La La Land follows Mia, an aspiring actress who serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and Sebastian, a jazz musician who scrapes by playing cocktail party gigs in dingy bars, but as success mounts they are faced with decisions that begin to fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart. I feel like La La Land was trying very hard to create ‘the modern musical’ by somewhat stealing snippets of old school musicals and all that was grand about them. The movie opens with an over-produced and somewhat out of place musical number. Then it introduces us to our leading lady [Emma Stone] with an over-acted song and dance. But, I think it was purposely done so that it could tell the audience “okay, we’ve done the big song and dance – now let’s get on with the story.” So, those of you who aren’t fans of big musical productions, don’t be discouraged with how the movie opens. Just know it’s for a reason!
For me, Ryan Gosling was the highlight of this movie! We’ve seen him be the tough guy, the muscly love interest, but in this role, he shows he’s so much more than a pretty face. His character, Seb, is in love with jazz music and if you’re not into jazz, I promise you – by the end of the film you will love it too! Mr. Gosling took months of piano lessons to learn to play in the film and it is amazing! This was in addition to singing and dance lessons. He did a great job of singing in the film and the dancing was very Gene Kelly and on point! (go Google that)
Emma Stone is not new to the whole song and dance routine as she has worked on Broadway before. However, knowing that she has that under her belt, I was a bit disappointed with her singing in the film. There were several times where her voice felt very light and over done in a studio setting instead of feeling ‘real’ on screen. Towards the end, she does have an amazing moment where she is singing “The Fools Who Dream” (this is the song you hear in the movie trailers) that is so moving! Although her singing and dancing overall are good, it is her acting and honest portrayal of an actor’s life that really touched me.
The sets, costumes, the way the city of LA is featured, the music, the songs, the dancing, the amazing acting and outpouring of emotion from our characters – all of these things make it a definite ‘must see’. Plus, towards the end, we have a dance number that will take you back to the era of Fred & Ginger (young people, again, go ask Google).