‘La La Land’ deserves the hype

'La La Land' deserves the hype

As far-fetched the idea of singing to express our feelings is for the general public, the musical “La La Land” feels real.

The widely acclaimed movie featuring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone has been racking up accolades since the start of awards season, garnering the coveted Oscar buzz. Based on the stunning performances, it’s well-deserved.

“La La Land” is not pitch-perfect. The vocals and music, while pleasant and clear, aren’t mind-blowing. It’s honestly the raw passion in the two main characters’ portrayals that propel the movie from a simple musical to a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Stone, playing Mia, isn’t given much to work with in terms of character depth. Mia is a struggling actress, whose singular character development consists of failed auditions and a mundane work life.

However, Stone takes a one-dimensional character archetype and transforms her into a person the viewer will care about. Her singing voice will falter as Mia’s spirit quivers, exposing Mia’s littlest vulnerabilities. When Mia is doing well, Stone steals the scene with a confident, unignorable presence.

Gosling, with much more individual character depth, plays the part of Sebastian, a traditional jazz lover forced to compromise to get by. He is believable, relatable and lovable as he aspires to own his own jazz lounge. When he meets Mia, his life changes.

The story is pretty basic: two artists fall in love but are hindered by the pressures of their work. “La La Land,” however, is not a happily-ever-after story, and that’s one of its strengths. Viewers get a lot of “this is how it could’ve been” moments as Mia and Sebastian fall apart.

It feels much more realistic than the musicals that mend problems with an uplifting song at the end, and it probably provided much more opportunity for Gosling and Stone to give Oscar-worthy performances.

The picture as a whole is an enjoyable watch. Never once did the two-hour film feel long or dragged out as Mia and Sebastian’s relationship developed from season to season.

With pretty simple characters and a far from complex plot, I questioned why I cared so much about Mia and Sebastian’s fate. I felt so compelled to find out what happened to these two characters, a testament to the actors’ abilities to so poignantly express the struggle of balancing love and work.

“La La Land” is glitzy in its musical numbers, but relatable at its core. It’s no wonder why it resonated with so many of its viewers.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)