La La Land is well shot and well acted but a musical depends on the voices of its leads and Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are not strong singers.
Title: La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Summary: A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
There are two things that Hollywood loves more than anything; movies based on true stories and movies that point out how awesome Hollywood is. The Artist is a prime example of a movie that has been made to appeal to the people on the Academy. As soon as I saw the trailer for La La Land I knew that it was going to be another example of a movie designed to appeal to Academy voters and critics. I didn't doubt for a second that critics were going to love it (they do) and that it is going to win a ton of awards (it will) but the real question is: is it going to appeal the general audiences?
This is a very charming musical with two very likable leads. Mia (Emma Stone) is charming and quirky but she isn't a manic, pixie dream girl. The movie is just as much hers as it is Sebastian's (Ryan Gosling). They have an easy going chemistry and they look like a couple straight out of the movies. The cinematography, costumes and set designs all walk this line of being real and looking like something out a movie set. It makes the fact it's a musical work. The moments when everyone breaks into song doesn't feel out of place because it's a movie that is trying to look like a movie. The ending is absolutely fantastic, and I wouldn't dream of spoiling it, but it's a gut puncher. It elevates the entire movie in a way I haven't seen in a long time.
However, since La La Land is a musical the most important thing are the lead's voices. In my opinion director/writer Damien Chazelle unfortunately picked an actor and an actress who can act but can't really sing. Stone is probably the weakest singer in the entire production. She is very soft and husky and she struggles to hit the high notes. Gosling is a little better and he learned how to play the piano for this role but he also isn't the best singer. John Legend shows up at one point and the apparent difference between Legend and Stone and Gosling in terms of strength is whiplash inducing. The weak singers make the music forgettable save for one. I hummed the music from Moana for a week. I could remember the song from the trailer for La La Land and nothing else.
La La Land is a movie that is going to win a lot of awards and the praise of most critics. I'm not saying I didn't like it, I enjoyed it for many reasons and it's a well made picture, but as far as being perfect or genius I can't say I agree. It's very good, I very much enjoyed it and most people with as well, but I'm not in love with it like everyone else