Phillip's thoughts on La La Land (2016) [KIND OF A REVIEW] (SPOILERS)Phillip873 Note: HIGHLY controversial review, just hear me out. Also, this is sort of a review, but it is more unorganized and untidy. However I do give it a score at the end.
La la Land... one of the most controversial and most talked about movies of 2016/17. Something I observed about this movie is that people either loved the movie, or absolutely hated it. Now, before you get angry at me (because I know this movie has a hatedom on this site), I really cannot help but genuinely like this movie a lot! Here's why:
So at the beginning of the movie, we are greeted with a whole musical number on a freeway with a song called "Another Day of Sun", and lemme tell ya, I was blown away by how great the music was and the choreography may not be perfect, but it was still good, and it didn't feel "artificial". However I do think this scene doesn't really contribute much to the story, but upon watching this, i could really care less, because I was wholly entertained!
Speaking of the story, I really agree with people on the "we've seen this before". I didn't think MOST the story was anything special (and that is one of the biggest problems I had with this movie), but that doesn't mean I think it was bad. However, I'm so happy with what they did at the ending.
Now the ending really satisfied me, and actually sort of hit me in the feels. The whole story revolves around jazz musician Sebastian and aspiring actress Mia. Eventually, after Sebastian could not make it to Mia's play and barely anyone showed up to it, she heads to her hometown in Nevada, giving up on life. Now the thing was there was a woman who worked in big movies and wanted Mia to be the star after seeing her play, and Sebastian eventually convinced her to go back to LA to get the job. So yeah, she gets the acting job, but here's the kicker to me. They have to split up, as Sebastian has to go on tour with his band (which I will talk about soon) and she has to go to Paris to film the movie. So they split up, but they still have feelings for each other. Five years later she is a success and married with a child, while Sebastian actually opened up his own club. Mia and her husband end up at the club by accident on a night out, and she is shocked to see he has his club opened. Now, we get to the epilogue, which was my favorite part of the movie. After Sebastian notices Mia and her husband, he knows they cannot be together, because she already moved on. So what does he do in response, he sits at a piano, and plays a solo for the whole club, but watching this, you know it's directed at Mia. He starts playing the song on the piano the night he met Mia and got fired from his job. Instead of pushing her away, they kiss. We then get a beautiful montage of what life would have been like for them if Sebastian quit the jazz-pop band he was in, and showed up to Mia's play (because he missed it due to that) accompanied with such ASTOUNDING music (shoutout to that FANTASTIC trumpet solo too) and some fun choreography! I was blown away by how bittersweet this scene felt in itself. It's so happy for me when I saw them together, but it hits me when i knew this was only, "What if..." After this whole beautiful scene, we seen Sebastian still at the piano playing the rest of his song, and I really have to say, Ryan Gosling shines here. The look of devastation on his face knowing that they will never be together, but they will move on with their memories, really hit me, and it was very well done. Emma Stone also did a fabulous job with that silent acting part, because she feels the same way, she already has a husband and kid, so she must move on. The movie ends with Sebastian giving one more melancholy-smile to Mia, and they silently exchange their good-byes and move on with their lives.
Honestly, I saw people on this site say that it was dumb; however this was the best ending I could think of for this movie in my personal opinion, here's why. It felt genuine to me. They didn't pull some BS like, "Oh she divorced her husband and ran off with Sebastian, to live Happily-Ever-After". That would have been the worst ending for me, even though I really do want to see them together. It would just make me feel bad for Mia's husband and now motherless kid. Also we've seen this happily ever after crap all the time, and I'm glad this was the most "original" part of the movie. But this ending actually left me feeling something bittersweet, they did have their fun and memories, and they will cherish them, but they have spread apart from each other for too long, and must part ways. It felt the OPPOSITE of forced for me.
Spoilers end here.
Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to get in to another part of the story, the band Sebastian joins. All he wanted to do was become a jazz musician and entertain people, open his own club. So he does become a musician, but more of a pop-type jazz musician as he accepts a job with a musician he used to know. First off I DONT HATE POP MUSIC. In fact that pop song in the movie they performed was particularly good! But it made me think, "Was this really Sebastian's dream, to play some weird electric piano with flashy lights all around?" I just felt like watching him perform that song, and the facial expressions he exchanged with Mia suggests this is not what he really wants to do with his life. I liked that part of the story because it suggests that Sebastian is becoming successful, but not in the way he actually wanted to, and he is asked if he genuinely enjoys the music he performs. Anyway, just wanted to add that.
Speaking of the music, the music was my favorite part of the movie. I adored the soundtrack for this movie, and I would listen to it just independently without watching the movie again. I thought at first when I heard of this movie and it's jazz style music, I thought, "Oh they probably pulled some jazz charts that literally ANYONE knows to pander to jazz enthusiasts." I do enjoy jazz but I do not enjoy being pandered to. But this soundtrack was ALL ORIGINAL MUSIC and mostly composed by someone known as Justin Hurwitz. He did a great job with the songs, and the jazz ensemble is professional and has a wonderful ensemble sound. It really has its own style and there was definite passion in the making of this music. My favorite song by the way was "Another Day of Sun" (the one in the beginning), it's just so fun and upbeat, and has wonderful sound, as well as a kick-ass woodwind feature! A little off-topic, but the way Sebastian explains jazz to Mia in the jazz club to me felt like the perfect way to explain it, consistently new and interesting!
Now I did praise this movie a ton, but here are a couple complaints I did have for the movie. First off, the biggest part was a lot of the story had been done before. However I let it pass, because this movie is trying to be a modern-day musical, and they usually follow that format. I already said this too, but the first musical scene felt a little out of place in context of the story, but I did not care because it was incredible! So I count it as a nit-pick. One more problem I had was the choreography wasn't perfect at all, nevertheless I still thought it was full of passion and a lot of fun!
I lastly want to talk about director Damien Chazelle and actors Ryan Gosling/Emma Stone in the movie. I could tell Damien put some real passion into this movie, to make it a modern day musical; to make it special, his passion totally shows to me through the songs, the directing of most of the story, and also a shoutout to the cinematography, I like the style of it. He also created one of my favorite movies of all time "Whiplash" which came out in 2014, and it is quite the opposite of this movie. I really hope he goes on to make more movies, as I love his directing! Also Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone were wonderful in this movie. I really do think they had some great chemistry. I can't tell much, but their romance does feel genuine, probably due to the good acting. I definitely felt like Sebastian really wanted Mia to succeed when he drove all the way to her hometown to get her to go to get the movie job. I already talked about it but still, the final expressions they exchange at the end still were fantastic, and a great example of silent acting. I could feel the emotions of the characters as they moved on. I also thought they were pretty good singers to, not professional, but still not bad, and I enjoyed their songs quite a bit! Also props to Ryan Gosling ACTUALLY learning the piano. In the credits, you see that Ryan Gosling actually got a piano instructor to teach him to play the piano wonderfully, so you know it's actually him playing the piano and it's not pre-recorded! And he sounds fantastic! That really shows me what passion went into this movie.
Overall, La La Land may not be a perfect movie at all, but I really cannot help but admire the amount of sheer passion that went into the making of this movie. I also thought the ending was done very well and it did not end with some happily-ever-after bull crap we see in these movies all the time. Whether you disagree with me or not (which I know people will probably hate me over this), Damien Chazelle has definitely made a movie that was worth talking about last year and this year, and he is on the rise. If I were going to rate this, I would give it a 9/10 (Wonderful) because I knew it had some flaws in story, but it is a personal favorite of mine so far.
Tell me what you think or if you have questions in the comments below, thank you. 👍🎺
Great post. You went into a lot of great details on why this movie is as good as it is. I don't mind much of the story's predictability because I liked these characters and the journey they were going on. I feel that if you have great characters in the movie, that can excuse some of the cliched story elements. After making two phenomenal movies back-to-back that couldn't have been more different from each other (a musical romance and an intense drama), I wonder what Damien Chazelle has next for us. He's one of the best young filmmakers out there. Anyway, great job with this. It seems like you put in a lot of time and effort into making this post, and I can greatly appreciate that. - phillysports
I hated la la land - visitor
And that's ok, I just liked it for some of the reasons people hated it. - Phillip873
I thought it was the best musical ever personally. - iliekpiez