Watching a Dream on the Big Screen in “La La Land” (Review)

Dec 27, 2016

La La Land (2016)
Summit Entertainment

Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Produced by: Fred Berger, Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt
Written by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt

The Good
Right off the bat, you can tell that the cinematography for La La Land is off the charts. It’s a visually stunning film. The dance and choreography are definitely highlights, as they are executed perfectly. Given the fact that this film feels like a Broadway play in some instances, it is nice to see the camera rarely pull away during many of the song-and-dance routines. That essentially helps viewers appreciate the excellent performances from the main characters.

Speaking of which, Ryan Gosling gets a lot of kudos from me for being able to really deliver with his piano skills. From what I could research, he spent three months learning how to play the piano, but in the movie, he comes off as a lifelong pianist. Despite being the co-star, it goes without saying that Emma Stone ran away with this film. She had every opportunity through this role to display a full range of emotions that easily elevate her performance to new heights. (Wouldn’t be surprised if she won an award for it.) Stone and Gosling’s on-screen chemistry is undeniable and carries the movie from beginning to end.

The plot is another positive for La La Land. This movie will definitely speak to dreamers and lovers alike. The ending of the film really helps to ground the film and drive home some great life lessons.

The Bad
While this isn’t true for all of them, a few of the song-and-dance segments really didn’t seem to fit or flow naturally in the film (such as the opening scene, for example). There are just a couple of times when it feels like some songs are placed into the film just for the sake of being a musical, rather than allowing the songs and dances to organically drive the plot. There are probably one or two sequences that could’ve been left out of the film to help tighten up the pacing a bit.

The Reason
I think it’s worth admitting that I’m not the biggest fan of musicals. That doesn’t mean that I hate them, or that I’m cynical about them. I just don’t go out of my way to seek them out. However, I do believe that I can appreciate a good one when I see one, and La La Land is definitely one of the good ones. This film is like watching a dream on the big screen.

I think that fans of musicals will undoubtedly enjoy this film. My only concern is whether this will appeal to more casual movie fans. If you’re in doubt, then I’d probably recommend checking out these Five Films to Watch Before La La Land by one of my fellow film critics, Don Shanahan from Otherwise, I’d recommend checking out La La Land in theaters whenever you get the chance.