Highly controversial opinion alert: I wasn’t mad keen on La La Land (gasp). I didn’t think I would be (another gasp). I’ve never been a massive fan of either Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone (apologies if you’ve now taken in way too much air), and I believe in a rom-com, the ‘com’ element should take precedence over the ‘rom.’ So it’s probably fair to say I responded to the film as I was always really going to.
I understand the point, that it’s supposed to be gushy and sappy etc., being a musical after all. Where leaping into song and dance is plausible, so too is a classic love story between dreamers in a magical world where all women are toothpicks, bronzed to varying degrees, who run around in block colour dresses with gorgeous men and ultimately fulfil their dreams. But I’m not sure that being self-proclaimedly sappy makes it any less sappy. Nor does the ‘omg totes revolutionary completely mad’ plot twist make it any less a hard-core rom.
None of this is bad, it was a nice experience - the jazz soundtrack was enjoyable and both protagonists were, annoyingly, sufficiently good dancers (though the choreography was not particularly great or challenging). It capitalised of the current zeitgeist of nostalgia in a pleasing manner; in our terrifyingly modern world, why shouldn’t we revel in Hollywood-era aesthetics and dream of a time when the world was sunnier without fearing global warming, free of the threat of terrorism, or indeed ‘Making It All Great Again’ eh?
Perhaps I simply wasn’t the target audience of a cis, straight, white, middle class young female – despite incidentally being interested in the arts and having been a lifelong fan of musicals.
"Why shouldn’t we revel in Hollywood-era aesthetics and dream of a time when the world was sunnier without fearing global warming, free of the threat of terrorism, or indeed ‘Making It All Great Again’ eh?"
I reiterate, none of my criticisms are really critical, but I question whether this essentially hollow film deserves the multitude of nominations it appears to have drummed up, and whether these nominations will bear the fruits of the apparently limitless rewards people deem it to deserve. Costume and original score, perhaps (though there is an arguably limited heated competition for music, at least, in the relative lack of other musicals produced), or best actor and screenplay. However, I would contest. I’m not sure that what is essentially a standard romance without any particularly witty lines should necessarily be considered a ‘great’ film. I feel we have come a long way from rewarding art which we consider pretty and nothing but pretty - why is film an exception?
Overall, um, good effort guys. Nice. Strongly nice. Please Hollywood, keep trying with musicals - there is nothing wrong with making something purely ‘feel-good.’ Just please don’t pretend it’s anything more.
I admit that I am a snob and perhaps go to the cinema for different reasons to others. But if you’re looking for a musical or a generally feel-good film, I’d rather go for Hairspray or Singin’ in the Rain. If you’re not looking for that at all, then it’s probably best to just not bother.
More like this: The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964)