Likeable lovers in La La Land

LET'S DANCE: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in La La Land.
LET'S DANCE: Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in La La Land.

I’m not the biggest fan of musicals in the world so I approached La La Land with some trepidation.

Though perhaps musical does not do it justice, the film is apparently described as a “musical romantic comedy-drama” so it seems to have all its bases covered there.

Certainly the critics are raving about it.

The film has already won seven Golden Globes and has been nominated for a record-equalling 14 Academy Awards, the most since Titanic also got 14 nominations in 1997.

Two of the nominations are for best male lead (Ryan Gosling) and best female lead (Emma Stone) and their performances are engaging even if neither is the best singer in the world.

The pounding score in the film reminded me of the critically acclaimed 2014 film Birdman as did the arty theme of the movie. 

And there was a third link I’d forgotten about. 

I thought I had not seen Emma Stone in a movie before but revisiting a Youtube clip the other day I was reminded she played Michael Keaton’s daughter in Birdman.

In La La Land (named for its Los Angeles setting and the idea of being out of touch with reality), there is undoubted chemistry between Stone who plays a struggling actor who works as a barista between auditions and Gosling who plays a struggling musician whose dream is to own his open jazz club.

But I didn’t identify with either character and struggled to care for their plight or their difficult romantic journey.

Indeed I found most of the characters vacuous, making La La Land an appropriate title, which I expect is probably what the film’s writer and director (assured newcomer Damien Chazelle) intended anyway.

However I did enjoy the film’s jazz music and the musings of Gosling’s character of why jazz was so important to him.

The music was less successful when it moved into other genres and none of the tunes stayed with me after I left the cinema.

La La Land doesn’t quite live up to the hype but it is a passable two hours worth of Hollywood entertainment.

I give it three out of five stars.