If you asked me to name one movie I was looking forward to seeing this Holiday season, my answer would be “La La Land.” So when I got an invitation to an advanced screening, I grabbed the opportunity right away. When I got there, there was a very weird vibe at the theater. We had to go through two security checks – worse than TSA – and then they had to confiscate our phones during the movie. It threw me off – I told my seat mate that I can’t remember the last time I have been away from my phone for that long a time. But I do get why they did it.
So maybe that was the reason why it took me a little bit to get into it, when this movie should really be a case of love at first sight. The opening number is big and bombastic, and I bet it catches everyone’s attentions right away. This is a big musical movie, a throweback to the big MGM ones, though of course it feels modern and contemporary. Directed by Damien Chazelle, this film is unabashedly romantic, as a matter of fact, I cannot remember a recent movie that is as focused a love story as this one. And it stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as lovers, and they are both love personified. Stone’s doe eyes and Gosling’s boyish charms make them the perfect couple, and they sing and dance flawlessly that it seems that this is as close to perfect a movie for my taste.
So why then did I, initially, feel lukewarm about it ? Don’t get me wrong, I ended up really loving it towards the end but it took me a little bit to get there. The pacing in the beginning was a tad slow, the music was more Jason Robert Brown than Gershwin (and I like Brown but of course love Gershwin) I think maybe the sound at the theater wasn’t as commanding as I thought it could be, and that hurt of course. or maybe me being away from my phone took a little getting used to.
Still, I list the things I loved: the jazz in here is stellar, the acting touched me, and the last ten minutes of the movie is both jubilant and heartbreaking. I know I loved this movie, but right now I am conflicted by how much. I think this is the kind of movie that would grown with repeated viewings, and since the film is a valentine to the city of Los Angeles, it would be pretty great to see it in Los Angeles, a city I frequent.
So, you have not heard the last from me about La La Land. The rest is still unwritten.