- Gareth Crook
La La Land (2016)
This was a bad idea. I bloody hate musicals. This one starts off badly with a scene that reminds me of two things, Falling Down and REM’s ‘Everybody Hurts’ video, but annoyingly joyous. I’m sorry but you’re stuck in traffic on some godforsaken freeway, there’s nothing to be cheerful about, which is then highlighted by Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) getting pissed off and honking Emma Stone (Mia). The singing mercifully stops and we learn Mia is an aspiring actor working in a coffee shop. She also lives with 3 other instantly annoying wannabe stars, who can’t navigate the apartment without spinning around lampstands or throwing their heads back in doorways and yes, fucking singing... about sod all. They bully Mia into a night out, Mia clearly much happier in her own dreamworld. To the party we go, where nothing happens. At all! and we cut to Mia now alone having had her car towed. Where are her friends? We never see them again. What the fuck is going on? She walks... home, maybe, but stops in at a piano bar where she appears captivated by something, someone. It doesn’t matter, because in an effort to try and keep the audience interested and skirt over the nonsensical cuts, we get a time jump back to the opening scene on the freeway. This time we follow Sebastian, who appears to be a jazz musician... who thank fuck at least lives alone. Obviously he’s a pianist, it’s telegraphed by the predictable shitness. He’ll be in the piano bar captivating Mia in a few minutes I’m sure. First though he’s auditioning for JK Simmons, who I’m genuinely ashamed to see here. He’s not on screen long though, very wise. Anyway, back to Seb tinkling the ivories as a spotlight hits him. I like the piano, but this is doing nothing for me. JK doesn’t like it either and fires him. Mia tried to tell him she loved it as he walks right past her... ooo edgy! That was all Winter, a title card now informing us it’s Spring (it looks no different) as a fucking atrocious cover of A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’ is played by a group than look like children’s entertainers. One of which is Seb (I just can’t be arsed typing out Sebastian every time) who’s playing a bloody keytar at another party. Seb is an arrogant prick, who any sensible person would stay the hell away from. Mia though it seems is not that sharp. Instead walks away from the party with Seb looking for their respective cars, instead finding some lampposts to twirl around as they sing some saccharin shite about not fancying each other, before breaking into a full dance routine, that I will acknowledge is very well choreographed. This scene appears to transform Seb into a nice guy who then bumps into Mia at work, tries to educate her on the wonders of jazz, serious jazz, blah blah. Now I like jazz, but the notion that this character, in this film is going to save it is laughable. So anyway we have the love story established, except on no, Mia has a boyfriend, Greg, who’s not really worth mentioning and soon gets ditched as Mia legs it through the streets in heels, a massive smile on her face to meet Seb at the cinema to watch ‘A Rebel Without a Cause’, an infinitely better film than the one I’m suffering through right now. What happens next chills me to my core as the couple leave the cinema and head to the observatory from Rebel to dance! Oh but not any earthbound dancing, no no, this is full on wire work Mary Poppins in the stars stuff, until they realise that’d be a bit shit and opt for some ropey looking silhouette stuff against a galaxy backdrop instead, like a bloody apple ad from the 90s. Anyway, they kiss and it’s Summer. Which still looks the same. I guess it is LA to be fair. Summer is met with a montage of happy faces, dancing, Seb buggering about on the piano. Everything is rosy. I am fucking bored senseless. It tries to add some uncertainty with Mia struggling to get an acting foothold and Seb at odds with the world that doesn’t understand his view of proper jazz. God this really is dull and goes nowhere for what feels like hours. It really is a slog and the only saving grace is there’s not as many songs as I’d feared. Now even if I hate a film, I always force myself to get the the end, but there are numerous occasions here where I’m close to giving up. Certainly when Seb joins a band to play keyboards and we’re subjected to a performance in front of an adoring crowd, it’s worse than you could imagine, but we’re lead to believe this band are great as they head out on tour and Seb leaves Mia to go on the road, trying to raise enough money to open his own jazz club. This adds some mock tension to the relationship. They fall out as Mia thinks he’s lost sight of his dream and her own career tanks, Mia ditches Seb and LA. Dreams, artistic credibility yada yada, these are good plot points wasted here. In time, we get a ‘5 years later...’ title. Mia is a successful actress, she’s married and has a child. Not with Seb, who has his club. With all the chance of a sledgehammer to the face, Mia wanders into ‘Seb’s’ with her husband. Sits down, Seb spots her as he takes his place at the piano in front of a packed house. He’s only playing to an audience of one though of course. What’s going to happen? I really could not care less. These characters are so empty and we’re forced to rewatch the entire stinking plot again in some weird alternate reality show number of what if’s. That this was ever even nominated for an Oscar never mind mistaken for winning one is an utter joke. It’s drivel that just drags on and on and on and just fucking kill me. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. That $30 million was spent on this howler is truly upsetting. I know it’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but I can’t give it anything other than.