“La La Land,” a Spoiler Free Review

Enjoyably Inoffensive.

“La La Land” is most aptly described as a beautiful portrait of the musical genre of film. It doesn’t innovate the genre like “Les Misérables;” it doesn’t constantly surprise the viewer with narrative twists like “Into the Woods;” it doesn’t constantly take risks like “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” However, “La La Land” surpasses all three of the previously mentioned musicals by boiling down what a musical fundamentally is, then perfecting that condensed thought with boundless charm.

There are really only two characters in “La La Land,” Mia (played by Emma Stone) and Sebastian (played by Ryan Gosling). However, this minimalism once again works in the film’s favor by allowing a great deal of character and relationship development to occur between the two. Almost every scene between stone and gosling is wrapped in the giddy romance of young dreamers in  love.

Unfortunately, this narrow scope in the cast does make every other person in the movie feel out of place. This was most glaring with the character of Sebastian’s sister who is introduced within the first ten minutes of the film only to disappear for the rest of the film; in fact, Gosling’s character never even mentions his sister to Mia during the film. It felt like, from a narrative standpoint, the audience was forced to wear horse blinders; anything not shown on screen no longer existed. In addition to completely forgettable side characters, “La La Land” has one of the most cliche’ driven plots I have seen in a long time. If you have seen a romantic comedy than you will have no problem guessing the plot of “La La Land.”

Music is probably the most important part of any musical, obviously. Strangely enough, “La La Land” didn’t seem to get the memo; the film offers a only a measly six songs for the audience to really get involved in, contrast this to another famous musical about Hollywood, “Singin’ in the Rain” which offered double that number, and still had time to have more than two characters in the movie. The music in “La La Land” is superbly written and performed with consistent theming that really rewards the audience members with an ear for music. If you are squeamish, as I am, towards clear lip-syncing in movie musicals than rest assured only the opening number was performed noticeably lip-synced.

While the very reserved plot and musical numbers might have hurt a less visually interesting movie, “La La Land” manages to dazzle the audience with masterful camerawork and stunningly vibrant use of color. Honestly, I could spend paragraphs trying to explain the beautiful style this film possesses, but I doubt I could do it much of a service (just check out the pictures below). I can, fortunately, describe the incredibly fast paced and remarkably smooth camera work present within “La La Land.” The film’s Director, Damien Chazelle (famous for another music-related movie, “Whiplash”) uses increasingly complex methods like cranes, quick turns, and extremely long takes to make even the most mundane actions visually stimulating. Despite the lacking story and sparse music, “La La Land” earns the price of admission on style alone.

“La La Land” is a portrait; it captures the musical genre at its most elegant, but in doing so is only as interesting as a still image.

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