La La Lame

Why I wasn’t impressed with La La Land


Left: Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová in Once. Right: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land.

Manuel Ramirez, Staff Writer

A new winning record of seven Golden Globes and a big contender for the Oscars, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land, is a postmodern musical filmed in the style of fifties classics like Singing in the Rain. A movie seen as a celebration of cinema, music, and as the tagline states “to the fool’s who dream;” a film that pays tribute to other Hollywood classics from An American in Paris to Casablanca. I love musicals as much as the next person but I found myself not feeling the love for this feature film for a few reasons. Despite the memorable songs, dance numbers and great cinematography I did not like the main characters of La La Land, Mia and Sebastian played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Both give great performances but the characters came off more obnoxious than charming.

Nevertheless, I remained hopeful but as the film came to a close I couldn’t but think of John Carney’s Once, another film where music plays a central role. The premise of that film and La La Land are very similar. Both are about a young couple who are musically gifted, passionate in their fields, aren’t living the life of a luxury despite their talents, struggling to find a better route in their lives, are presented a chance to make it big and are faced with a decision with pursuing their hopes and dreams or being with each other. I’ll admit that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have chemistry but they lack what makes the couple in Once more endearing; charm, likability, and the effort to make amends when conflict arises. With Mia and Sebastian, they are at each others throats; even when a reasonable decision is made neither side is content that it’s just irksome to watch.

Without going into full spoilers, I understand the point of its ending.  A decision is made with moments of sadness, regret and hope. An unexpected and emotional moment that left me sad and happy but at the same time I understood why it happened. There’s just one problem…… I’ve seen this done before and better in Carney’s film!

Once has a humble and calm atmosphere containing beautiful and poignant themes in its story, characters and music. What make it more impressive is that it comes from a very small and low-budget film. La La Land attempts this with a bigger budget, stellar cast, catchy songs, and glamorous look in an attempt to make it mainstream but it’s the heart that’s absent, making the pay-off completely empty.

Many say La La Land is the film that makes us love and go to the movies but for me its films like Once that makes movies worth watching.