La La Land and its stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are the favourites to win big at the Oscars this year.
La La Land stars Emma as Mia and Ryan as Sebastien, two people who fall in love while chasing their dreams in Hollywood.
The film has been praised by critics and film fans alike, and bagged a whopping 14 Academy Award nominations.
At the ceremony later tonight it stands a chance of walking away with best actor, best actress, best film, best director and best song among many, many others.
But it’s not worth making that much of song and dance about.
Let’s start with the singing and the dancing:
If you’re going to attempt to make a movie that captures the glamour and joy and fun of the old Hollywood musicals (think Top Hat, High Society, Singin’ In The Rain – which director Damien Chazelle has cited as one of his inspirations) then why not hire stars who can actually sing and play piano and dance?
Emma and Ryan underwent three months of training in May 2015, reportedly practicing the piano and working with a dance choreographer; can we just take a moment to think about all those dreamers, the singers and dancers, whose reality is the plot of La La Land and yet who missed out on the possibility of a big break because two big names were more important?
Emma and Ryan are perfectly fine singers and they are okay dancers but they’re certainly no Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly, and for a film that claims to be an homage to the Hollywood of past, it’s not putting much effort in.
It’s ‘brazenly uncommercial’, apparently:
The idea behind La La Land was branded ‘brazenly uncommercial’ by Chazelle, while Emma called it ‘a crazy notion’ when accepting her Golden Globe, and this has been exploited during marketing as a key reason to see the film.
Musicals are not ‘uncommercial’.
In the past 12 months NBC have staged hugely successful live TV versions of Grease and Hairpsray Live; the Broadway musical Hamilton has exploded and now tours the US and is opening in London’s West End; and A-list artists including Kelly Clarkson, Regina Spektor and Chance The Rapper appeared on a Hamilton mixtape, for God’s sake.
Oh, and almost every major Disney animated film is technically an original musical, including Moana, Frozen, and Tangled, which weren’t exactly ‘brazenly uncommercial’.
And what about the film itself?
La La Land is incredibly problematic.
It’s been called ‘the greatest love letter ever written to Los Angeles‘, with a ‘musical score [that] will stay with you for days’, and a film ‘which will leave you in tears yearning for all that you could have had if you’d taken a different path’.
But for a musical there are only two songs that will stick in your head and let’s be honest, if you can’t tell if a scene has been filmed with a green screen or on location, it’s hardly a love story to the city it is set in, is it?
La La Land is actually a love story for jazz, with a leading male character who likes to mansplain very loudly and intently whenever he gets the chance about just how important jazz music is and how he will be the saviour jazz music needs.
Aside from one conversation between Mia and Seb about how her aunt introduced her to the Hollywood classics, we get nothing about her dreams or hopes – there is nothing about the process of her one-man show or her family life and her friends, who remain one-dimensional.
And let’s talk about that ending… a bittersweet ending to a film about dreams and hope and love.
Or so you think.
Because as the film comes to its natural conclusion, Chazelle throws in another scene – a final ridiculous dream sequence that shows how it could have been for the pair and it will just serve to make you incredibly angry.
La La Land? More like Blah Blah Land.
La La Land is out in the UK on January 13.
It seems La La Land is worthy of its hype for some, however, as our writer Sarah Robertson argues: ‘Why La La Land is the best film to come out of Hollywood in the last two decades‘