‘La la land’ is somewhere between Woody Allen’s ‘Everyone Says I Love You’ and ‘Singing in the Rain’, with obvious references to Alan Parker’s ‘Fame’ (at least, at the very beginning) and to David Lynch’s ‘Mullholand Drive’ (mostly in the construction of Emma Stone’s character). I must confess being bored until, at least, half of it. The hommage to Hollywood musicals comes across as dated and static to the point that I don’t understand how its soundtrack became an instant success. I just didn’t get the whole Ginger Rogers things. Although the critics sang their praises for the fragile and shaky way in which both Gosling and Stone dance and sing, in my opinion, it comes across as affected and contrived. It is very difficult to manage that visual language these days and the fact that Hollywood has embraced it so tightly speaks more of its own melancholia than of anything else. From a certain point of view, it sounds like Hollywood’s swan song.
Far from modernist, the film is a thematisation of that mis en abime that makes it a film about films making it so obvious that it even includes its promotional poster as a promotional poster inside the movie. Shocking! This baroque-ish mis en abime also comes across as dated and paradoxically, far too safe. Having said this, it is ironic that this is the point where real life collapses into fiction because these days I am talking to a guy who might be some sort of romantic interest for me and having watched ‘La la land’ asked me to be patient with it a day after I asked him to be patient with me because I am not ready to go on a proper date. In other words, both in fiction and in real life what seemed convenient was to wait and, eventually, he was right.
After the first half, the film becomes an allegory of missed opportunities in love or, in other words, of that very hurtful ‘what if’ that we all have been through at some point in hours lives. And I think this is what makes ‘La la land’ connective because it transforms dance and jazz into an allegory of that very needed synchronicity without which love has no chance to be. As in a dance, one microsecond too late and two lovers might have missed their chance to be happy ever after. I met the love of my life in an escalator.
The film starts slowly and unfocussed and this became the perfect Gestalt for such boring protagonists. Gosling is a totem. He doesn’t move. He is what Michelangelo’s collosi were for Titian. Static, dull and unemotional. Both Stone and Gosling meet at a typically LA traffic jam only to end up insulting each other. A couple of days later, Emma Stone (Mia), an aspiring actress like thousands of others in that city, runs into the same guy at a club from which he has just been fired. It is not the right time but the way they keep running into each other means that fate is involved.
Seb is, basically, unbearable. A jazz evangelist and a purist, he despises everything that is not at his level for fear of failing. Unhappy and lonely, Seb goes through life finding ways to feel better about his own self defeat. But as time passes by, their relationship gets stronger. While Mia tries to encourage Seb to open his club, he urges her to stage her own play. She does but, at least, at first, fails while he seems to sell his soul to the Devil playing with a dodgy band led by John Legend to save the money to eventually open his club. None of them has enough patience to put their careers aside to allow love to breath and as a result everything falls apart because of their mutual pettiness and arrogance. Eventually (of course) they both succeed but life will never be the same. Love found and lost. My only problem with this is how the film naturalises the fact that careers is before love. There is something fiercely American in the way these people do not hesitate to be unhappy in order to succeed. This, of course, is never criticised and from this point of view, the film is not only about films but about the Hollywood ethos of money worshipping and self destruction. J A T