LA LA LAND
Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle
The holidays can be a great time, oooorrr they can be the day you thought someone was getting you a present and inexplicably let it pass without so much as a word and the elderly woman who jumps in front of you in line at customer services at the theatre — Hey! She did butt in front of me! — turns into a snarling harpy when you try to help. With an elderly, snarling harpy, by the way, it is best to be overly kind and deferential, letting them know you understand that they are in a rush on what is no doubt their last Christmas. You may quote me.
But, it wasn’t all bad. There were Christmas movies on TV and “SING” was charming and loved by the audience. Too bad that review is upcoming; this review is for “La La Land” and it was kind of like expecting that present all day. And, this gift was anticipated for months and it turned out to be pink bunny footie pajamas and everyone else is Aunt Clara.
How could I be so far off and everyone else, every critic and awards be so insanely in love with it? Well, I don’t think I’m so far off, actually. Of all the awards the film has been nominated for it is the creative team — the director/writer, composer, cinematographer, editor, etc. — that have raked in the statuettes, not the cast. The cast, wherein my disappointment with the movie lies and my high hopes were left lying on the sticky theatre floor. (Sorry about that, ushers.)
Oh, not the individual cast members, because each can carry a movie. We’ve seen that plenty of times in other films. It was the combination here that sucked the magic out of what was supposed to be a return to the magical musicals of the 30s through the 60s. Movies like “Singing In the Rain,” “Shall We Dance,” “West Side Story,” and dramas like “Casablanca” had in common was not just talent, but chemistry. Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire had such chemistry audiences couldn’t get enough of them. Bacall and Bogart got it so right they tied the knot.
This is really Gosling’s movie. At eight years older than Stone, he has the live-in, lived-through face of a man who has spent so many years pursuing a dream that remains just out of his reach. His is flawless casting, right down to the intricate piano solos that audiences may find it hard to believe he is genuinely playing himself. If you expected Stone to dance rings around him as I did, get ready to be proven wrong. He is passion in every word and movement, passion for his dream and passion for romance. His partner just comes across as much too young and lacking passion for what should be her dreams and seems never to really be in love in this great love story.
If it wasn’t so icky, I’d say it comes across as more an older brother-younger sister relationship. Oh, right. Take it the wrong way.
The question remains: in this Hollywood fantasy of two dreamers, can they get their Hollywood ending?
So, don’t furrow your brow and crumple up your computer and throw it in the rubbish bin and cast aspersions at me. Applaud the soundtrack, direction, story, and every bit of behind-the-scenes work — and definitely applaud Ryan Gosling — just think of Emma Stone as seriously miscast. And when the biggies (Academy Awards, obviously) come around, see if the voters are less enthusiastic about those crazy kids up there than maybe the noms imply.