La La Land

La La Land ★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

"Here's to the mess we make."

Gah...this wasn't supposed to happen. It was all supposed to come together on a second viewing! Make no mistake, I do like this movie. But as the magical, beautiful, emotional powerhouse that everyone says it is? It leaves a lot to be desired.

The film truly is magical when in song. Every number is dynamite. The first two numbers are a visual assault in the best way possible, with vivid color, flashy camerawork, and extremely committed extras, led by a sure-handed director. They make you think the rest of the film will have the manic energy of Whiplash, albeit with fewer uses of the word 'fuck'. And for a while, it does. Though the film opts to ditch the huge, extra filled numbers for more personal duets between the two leads, it maintains a steady momentum.

Unfortunately, the film forgets it's a musical in the second act, bringing the energy to a grinding halt, one which it never fully recovers from. It's narrative flaws become all the more apparent. This story doesn't have an original bone in it's body, and these characters are walking cliches. I realized I didn't really give a shit about this romance. The biggest problem I had was Seb and Mia's separation, which is probably one of the most contrived plot points I've seen in a film all year. The dinner scene is terrible. I do not buy for a second that these two characters would have such a petty argument. I also do not buy for a second that Sebastian would miss Mia's play opening. I don't give a shit that he forgot the photoshoot was the same night! It doesn't matter, because the plotline is resolved about five minutes after it happens, and everything is ok again.

It's manufactured drama, only there because romantic stories demand that the romantic leads have a falling out. This inevitable falling out between lead characters isn't just in romance, and it was one of the earliest narrative conventions I recognized at a young age. But I digress.

The whole story is by-the-numbers, it's just that this single flaw is so offensive. To an extent, it would be ok if the story and characters were so cliche if they weren't so important to the film! If this movie were about 90 minutes long and 100% a musical, at least the one it establishes itself to be in the opening minutes, I think it would be *closer* to perfection.

Look, if I'm being honest, I'm just a little bitter that better films *cough* Moonlight *cough* Manchester *cough* won't be winning the awards that La La Land will most likely be winning. There are certainly some it deserves, but Best Actor? Actress? Screenplay? Picture? This isn't even Chazelle's best film, let alone the best film of the year.

My first review of this film was me lying to myself. I was trying to convince myself that I really did love it like everyone else, that it truly was as magical and emotional as everyone said. And yeah, the final number is pretty great, but I wasn't even close to tears.

I think in time, once the hype dies down, I'll be able to love this film like everyone else does.

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