Movie Review: La La Land

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La La Land Review

By Van Stephenson

Originally having premiered in December 2016, La La Land is a throwback to classic Hollywood musicals, such as Singin’ In The Rain or The Sound of Music, while updating it for modern times and deconstructing it to improve the genre as a whole. However, the film still falls into some of the same potholes that a good bit of stories, musical or not, do.

The movie starts in the winter of an unknown year, in a crowded overpass that brings us the setting-establishing song Another Day of Sun, which is about the perceived joy and beauty in the idealistic fantasy of moving to Hollywood and getting famous, something the movie will go on to deconstruct and pit against (an admittedly still idealist) version of reality. After the number, our two leads are introduced, Mia Dolen (played by Emma Watson), who is an aspiring actress who is stuck working at a coffee shop while being rejected from various auditions, and Sebastian Wilder (played by Ryan Gosling), a wannabe jazz pianist who seems to be a fine example of the self-proclaimed ‘nice guy’.

The two leads repeatedly run into each other, both acting like childish asses to the other, until they wind up spending some time together; however, both spend most of the time complaining about the beauty of the night being wasted on them in the song A Lovely Night. This doesn’t make much sense, as after another conversation, Mia is willing to dump her boyfriend (who only appears for about a minute), for Sebastian, despite the two not showing any real affection for each other at this point.

Despite this rocky start, the real beauty of the movie is in how it portrays Mia and Sebastian’s growing relationship and their flaws. The film recognizes that both of our leads are imperfect, Mia not being able to think of the very real possibilities of things going wrong and Sebastian being somewhat of a narcissist. However, this leads to them improving each other, sometimes actively and sometimes not. Over the course of the movie, Sebastian gives Mia the drive to keep moving forward even if things are down while Mia makes Sebastian throw away his pride so he can realistically achieve his dreams. Though these moments do have their effects on their relationship, making them being together a good, yet unstable, thing.

The ending of the movie is a bit controversial, a portion of the audience voicing their disappointment when they exited the theater when I went to see it. I wish to avoid spoilers, but I will say that I enjoyed the ending as it seemed to be a logical conclusion, not the idealistic conclusion, that the movie had been building too, and is somewhat the point of the movie itself, that you can’t have it all.

Personally, I enjoyed the movie as a whole, even though it’s not usually my sort of thing. Some of the musical sequences can drag on for a bit; and while they are artistic, they can be a bit boring to watch as a viewer. However, the soundtrack is still amazing and compliments the movie almost perfectly. Some of the stories are a bit confusing as to why the characters would do what they do, but in the end, it doesn’t hinder the enjoyment. I’d like to give La La Land a 7/10.

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