La La Land (2016)

La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan GoslingEmma StoneRosemarie DeWittJ.K. SimmonsFinn WittrockJosh PenceJohn LegendTom Everett Scott
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 2.11.2016

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist who dreams of owning his own club and devoting his life to saving jazz as he loves it. Mia (Emma Stone) is an actress and playwright who dreams of the big career and works hard to finally get her breakthrough. No better place for either of their dreams than Los Angeles, where they meet and, despite initial antagonism, fall in love.

I was lucky enough to see La La Land pretty early, before it really became the smash hit it has since gone on to become with the accompanying blowing out of proportion of its qualities and the resulting backlash. And I have to say that I was very much charmed by the film and its two protagonists. Did I think it deserved all of the love it was getting? Not really. Did I think it deserved all the hate? Definitely not. It’s sweet, fun and entertaining, nothing more, nothing less.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling ooze charm in every minute of the film and that is a big part of why the film works so well. Of course, there are also the colorful costumes and the nice music and the great choreographies and the playing with old Hollywood musical style in general. But ultimately it’s Sebastian and Mia who have to work as characters to make the film fly and with Stone and Gosling and their charm and humor, that is no problem at all.

I was emotionally invested every second of the film right up until the ending which I found heartbreakingly effective. It was definitely cheesy, but it also managed to grab and move me.

The only thing that didn’t really work for me was Sebastian as the self-proclaimed savior of the Jazz of the Good Old Days. As a white man, it’s absolutely and definitely not his music to save, especially when black musicians tell him that there is nothing to save as jazz isn’t being destroyed, it’s developing. Thank fuck there was at least this much oppostion in the film against this particular instance of white saviorism. I just wish the film had actually listened to Keith (John Legend). Or better yet, had made Sebastian a black musician trying to build his own jazz club. It also would have tackled the issue of the predominately and embarassingly white cast.

Nevertheless, I thought that La La Land was nice to look at, funny and romantic and I enjoyed it, even if it isn’t the be all and end all of filmmaking that it got styled into before and with the Oscars.

Summarizing: Sweet.

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