Two aspiring artists, a would be actress and current coffee shop worker(Emma Stone) and a semi-delusional jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling), meet cute, sing, dance and romance across the City of Broken Dreams with the weight of reality bearing down, not only on their hopes and wishes but also on their relationship. Damien Chazelle's La La Land, a sophomore effort following his sleeper hit Whiplash, plays like the latest installment of That's Entertainment! or rather it is a well made emulation of the great Golden Age musicals which has absolutely no story or nothing at all to add to the genre. What starts out as energetic and stylish quickly settles down for a routine treatment and how can it be that for such a touted musical the most memorable thing about it is not the music, lyrics, or dancing (all of which is standard at best) but rather the camerawork and art direction? As for the performers, Gosling and Stone are no Rogers and Astaire nor Bogart and Bergman nor Kelly and Charisse nor whomever they happen to be imitating at any given time during the picture, and at no point did I believe these two leads ever truly held their sacred passions and ambitions. Despite some sporadic, determined directing from Chazelle, La La Land is a safe film, a movie made to win Oscars (which it no doubt will), and geared towards a demographic who take comfort in watching the same inane romantic comedies over and over again on cable TV who also will undoubtedly love this movie.
** out of ****