La La Land suffers from the way casting works in Hollywood (as does Arrival). Ryan Gosling got the gig because he is marketable, not at all because he can sing, dance, and play the piano. (He is not as lamentably bad as Jamie Foxx in The Soloist, but it’s still painful for any musician to watch him pretending to be one.) Emma Stone is a very busy actress, but not one obviously born to dance.
The main thing wrong with this ‘musical’, however, is a simple lack of music. There’s a lot of talking (especially jazzsplaining), and a lot of development of the ‘romantic’ relationship the film doesn’t need, and not enough singing and dancing.
A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
Dan Golding, 2017, 'The dreamers of La La Land', Senses of Cinema.
... we only have to look to the lyrics of La La Land’s final song to find what might be the film’s epitaph: “Here’s to the ones who dream,” sings Mia in ‘Audition’, “Foolish as they may seem.” By daring to dream, La La Land almost certainly leaves itself open to looking foolish – and maybe, to being jumped on in the process.
Christos Tsiolkas, 2016, 'Damien Chazelle's La La Land', Saturday Paper.
Mia’s story is fantastical and cliché-ridden, her aspirations never rising above the stereotypical. We don’t feel her obsession for acting nor for writing, and that lack of urgency diminishes her role.
Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 27 February, 2017 | Now: 18 March, 2017