Today I saw La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.
I wish my expectations hadn't been so elevated going into this—I went thinking it would be the second coming of films; that the musical was "back." Instead I viewed a film that couldn't decide what it wanted to be and felt more like a series of scenes than a free-flowing story. I'll get to the music in a bit.
Mia (Stone) is a stereotypical aspiring actress in Hollywood. She works as a barista on the Warner Bros. lot and juggles the hours at the coffee shop with a series of dismal auditions. She meet-cutes Sebastian (Gosling) who is a passionate jazz pianist, stuck in the wrong era, longing for a time when the classics were what everyone wanted to hear.
Though their flirting is more like bickering in the beginning, these two definitely have chemistry working in their favor and they're all-of-a-sudden partners in life. To be clear, my dislike of this film has nothing to do with its leads; Stone and Gosling are very appealing and believable in their roles. It's just the rest that's the problem.
The music: With the exception of the lonely piano tune that first draws Mia to Seb in the first place, none of the songs struck a chord with me. There were no earth-shattering notes hit or incredible infusions of emotion to make me want to run out and buy the album. For a musical, that's not good.
The dancing: Though Stone and Gosling are both fine dancers, the choreography seemed like a mash-up of the most basic sequences from classic movies. Nothing terribly original.
The story: There were moments of sweetness in the romance, and humorous elements in their attempts to follow their individual dreams, but it felt like the big build up led only to a giant letdown.
I hated, hated, hated the ending.
Instead of resulting in the magic that could have redeemed some of the weaker elements, this went completely wrong, leaving me feeling cheated and longing to watch one of the films that served as inspiration for this tale.