The “La La Land” trailers have been getting audiences excited, but now it’s time to find out if it’s more than just a good commercial. The film debuted at the Venice Film Festival in Italy, and the first reviews have come out.
The film, inspired by old school Hollywood movie musicals, follows Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz musician. The two meet a few times before falling for each other. However, their relationship is quickly threatened by their career paths.
The reviews are in: “La La Land” is overwhelmingly liked by critics. The cinematography is highly praised, and Stone and Gosling’s chemistry, which was first seen in 2011’s “Crazy Stupid Love,” is still off the charts. Of course, it’s not without it’s flaws. Some find it to be too simple, and others are unsure of certain musical numbers. Yet none of the reviews are entirely negative. Check out what the critics have to say:
TheWrap — Alonso Duralde gave a glowing review to the film, and he particularly praised the musical elements, which might not be typical movie musical fare. “The vocal duets between Stone and Gosling are charming even though they both have singing voices that might diplomatically be called ‘naturalistic.’ (Similarly, the songs by composer Justin Hurwitz and Broadway lyricists [Benj] Pasek and [Justin] Paul aren’t traditional show-stoppers, but they sneak up on you by the second reprise.)”
Deadline — Pete Hammond complimented the film’s originality. “It has been a very long time since we have seen something quite this lyrical, lovely, and most importantly, original on the screen, but at the same time it is a musical that has its feet firmly planted in the real world, even if the one up there on the wide Cinemascope screen is very stylized,” he wrote.
IndieWire — Eric Kohn gave it a B grade, but he doesn’t think the film is very deep at all: “[Keith, played by John Legend] bluntly reminds Sebastian — and, by proxy, the movie itself — that music must evolve to stay relevant. ‘How are you going to be a revolutionary if you’re such a traditionalist?’ Keith asks. It’s not a question deeply explored as the drama shifts to the couple’s rockier times. Unlike the great Demy pictures it wants to emulate, ‘La La Land’ is better on the surface.”
Hollywood Reporter — The movie, which clocks in at 132 minutes, is enjoyable, but it probably could’ve been a bit shorter, according to Todd McCarthy. “A lengthy postscript, set five years later, features a fantasy dance sequence (a frequent motif of old musicals),” he writes. “But while aiming for poignance, the film loses some of its edge in this final stretch and arguably overstays its welcome by perhaps 10 minutes; bringing the film in at under two hours would have been advisable.”
Guardian — Peter Bradshaw warns that audiences might be thrown off at first, but after they settle in, they won’t be able to look away. “It takes a little while to get acclimatised, and for the first five minutes, the showtune feel to the musical score might make you feel you’re watching a Broadway adaptation. But very soon I was utterly absorbed by this movie’s simple storytelling verve and the terrific lead performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who are both excellent.”
Telegraph — “La La Land” is definitely an Oscar contender, Robbie Collin concludes, and he praises how the film decides to utilize its musical elements. “It’s categorically not pastiche — the film is sharply sincere about the sacrifices ambition demands, and its more directly dramatic passages hit home without a musical note. But whenever words don’t seem enough, that’s where the songs come in — and as life gets better, it takes on the texture of a movie. “
Unfortunately, audiences will have to wait awhile before they can make their own decisions. While these early reviewers caught the film at the Venice Film Festival, “La La Land” won’t be widely released until Dec. 2.