Yesterday, I saw La La Land in theaters with my lovely friend, Danica, and I can honestly say that it was one of my best theater experiences–simply because La La Land happens to be a movie created for the big screen.
I was sometimes bewildered by but absolutely loved all the color and styles and references to movie culture and the way in which the movie was filmed, cut, and edited. It felt classic in a way that felt familiar to me–as if movies styled like this were what theaters were built for, and in a sense I suppose that’s true. Since I’ve never seen a thirties (?) or forties (?) movie (sorry, my film knowledge is horrible) in such a fancy place (hello, AMC reclining chairs), the experience was just new and lovely and wonderful to me. I mean, look at the observatory scene–you don’t see anything like that anymore. And I was really captured by the presence of the movie (as in, I forgot I was sitting in a theater. I just about never get lost in a movie that way).
Of course the storyline was pretty generic and rather shallow, but in a way, that felt right to me–once again reminiscent of old Hollywood movies. Honestly, the one thing that really didn’t feel right to me was the lead actors’ singing voices at times (and I don’t mean that to be offensive in any way. They’re actors, not musicians). My favorite numbers were the first two: “Another Day of Sun” and “Somewhere in the Crowd,” both of which were so colorful and wonderfully filmed. And the ending–I’ll get to that in a moment.
Side note: I did appreciate that Ryan Gosling’s character played the right notes on the piano–so often movies zoom in on characters playing in the wrong key, or just completely off notes.
So, the ending. Apparently some people are upset with the plot’s conclusion, but I thought it was brilliant. The “Epilogue” montage was one of the (honestly, it was probably the) most exhilarating things (thing?) I’ve ever seen on screen. I literally caught my breath when the Sebastian-bumping-Mia scene happened–and they kissed instead. And then I thought that would be the end of the flashback-slash-movie, but the epilogue kept going. The progression of music! The filming! The scenes! I don’t think I breathed once during its entirety. And I loved the reference (or maybe just the fact that I recognized the reference) to The Red Balloon when the characters “go” to Paris.
And I loved the plot’s conclusion. I read comments (I always Google movies when I get back) from people who said Mia should’ve dumped her husband and kid and reunited with Sebastian. Here’s what I say to that: no, no, no, no, no. To me, the point of the ending is that she found her happy ending, and it happened to be with another man; the “Epilogue” montage is simply a tribute to what could’ve, in an alternate universe, been her story. Nostalgic, yes, but not necessarily something Mia would wish for over her current life. (Also, no one should support the breakup of a family for no good reason. Really.)
Actually, the ending reminded me a lot of City of Angels (which I incidentally saw Danica perform in last spring)–an imagined alternate reality, though to me, La La Land’s reality reality is bittersweet and honest and City of Angels‘s is just kind of sad and awful.
Another side note: ignore me if I’m completely wrong, but a lot of parts in the film made me think of Georges Méliès and his sets, which I thought was cool.
Honestly, I might take my mom to see this because it was really, really, really exciting for me to see something so vibrant and vivacious and present-day and old-fashioned in a theater. I don’t think I could watch this at home and enjoy it. (Also, “Another Day of Sun” is stuck in my head.)
Viv’s Score: 84/100