La La Land
Posted: Posted December 26th, 2017 by mariomguy
So, I think enough users here know enough about me to realize I do not like cynic flicks, the "realism" excuse, or any movie that fails to reach its full potential. La La Land is then a curious case of both successfully having the power to circumvent those modern pitfalls but choosing instead to fall right through them while also achieving its full potential. Let me explain.
The film starts off with a massive, ambitious, song-and-dance number: arguably the greatest way to start any musical (or any movie, really). The story follows the pipe dreams of a waitress dreaming to become an actress as she meets a struggling jazz musician dreaming of owning a jazz club. As expected they are shown struggling to achieve their dreams with ups and downs, but curiously the story avoids letting them fall in love too quickly or stay together for too long.
So, the film shows us it's not actually the grand, magical spectacle we saw in the intro: rather, it's a sobering reminder of how reality comes in the way of screwing our dreams into something else. I applaud the secondary characters in this film: Keith, the music, and the numerous shots of rundown LA. This film intends to show that part to us: how dreams get turned by the tides of reality. And it succeeds in that very well. But was that really the greatest endeavor?
In the middle, that's when the movie really gets dull. It would be nice to have a hint of actual reality that isn't so heartbreaking, but this is a movie on a mission and nothing can stop it. Don't worry, the pacing picks up towards the end with the final audition and its "Broadway Melody" moment (look it up), but ultimately what made those old musical classics great was the great characters and hope that carried you through. I didn't find myself wanting to cheer for these characters. Perhaps it was their flaws, or the grip they lost, or the lack of context (Mia moreso than Sebastian), but if a movie is going to focus almost entirely on the relationship between two characters, those characters need good personalities, and the relationship needs more substance. Ultimately, while we completely understand their struggles and are given the logical reasons to care, the dulling down of the writing prevents us from doing so. It would be fine to have disappointment, but the writing throughout shows us nothing but constant disappointment and pulls the light away from the tunnel too fast.
It truly is the making of a great musical when you leave humming the music. If only the middle of the movie could match the magic of its bookends. Better balance could've fixed these issues and truly made this a film for the ages. Instead, it's just a movie for now.
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