“I’m probably the only woman here who has been dragged along by their boyfriend”, said my girlfriend as the title card for La La Land came on to the big screen today.
She wasn’t keen to see it, and as it turned out did not enjoy it. But then she doesn’t like musicals.
Neither do I really, although not as strongly as her. Sure, I enjoy Disney movies like The Lion King, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast that have songs throughout them, but if you were to ask me to sit down and watch a Fred Astaire musical or something of that ilk, I’d make my excuses and leave.
So why did I want to go to La La Land?
For one thing, everyone’s been raving about it, and even though it’s Oscar season and people tend to rave about movies that are in fact overly-worthy piles of self-important pish, the sheer amount of praise meant that I felt I had to give it a chance.
For another thing, Whiplash is one of the best movies I’ve seen since I started this blog, and seeing as it’s from the same director – Damien Chazelle – I suspected I’d like it.
So did I?
To an extent, yes, I thought it was fun, but there were elements to it that I didn’t think were all that good, and ironically those are some of the parts that have made it stand out to other people.
Or to put it another way, I didn’t like some of the songs.
The opening song on the freeway near LA was a bit cringey and the number about standing out from the crowd had me on the ropes thinking “Have I got to put up with two hours of this?”. Those types of set plays are just not for me, and neither was the musical style within them.
Eventually though, La La Land settled down into a proper story about two people – well performed as they were by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone – trying to make their own pathways in the entertainment industry. It was good; it held up well and kept me entertained. The music improved too, with the piano stuff and the later songs – especially the one towards the end when she was in for her audition – being much more my type of thing.
It also looked nice, with the director making great use of colour in his shots. It’s one of these movies where the quality of the director and his vision makes a difference to what you’re seeing. In a world where bland CGI tends to rule, this was a welcome relief.
Finally, I thought the ending was refreshingly different. Without spoiling it for you if you’ve yet to see it, it’s not how this type of film would traditionally end.
So on the whole, I liked La La Land enough to understand why it’s been getting hyped up so much. Some of it just wasn’t to my tastes, but there’s no doubt it’s good for what it is.
If you like that sort of thing, go and see it. If you’re like my girlfriend and have no time for the genre, then don’t bother.