I actually was going to post something this time last week about not understanding why I seemed to have no interest in seeing this film. I mean, I really like Emma Stone. I really like Ryan Gosling. I really like John Legend. I really like most musicals, and I really like jazz! My indifference about it just didn't add up, other than the fact that it kind of seemed too arty, even for me, and I just wasn't planning on sitting through it. There were other flicks that I was more interested in enjoying during this Oscar season.
But then it garnered 14 Academy Award nominations, tying with my beloved 'All About Eve', which received that many in 1950 and held the title for Most Noms until 'Titanic' matched it in 1997, so I finally decided that I needed to check it out, if for nothing else than to discover what all the fuss was about.
Well, we saw it last night and were blown away!
I don't remember ever using the word "transcendent" to describe a movie, but I'll definitely use it for this one. I've never seen anything like this, and I'm somehow under its spell, still feeling the atmosphere of it this morning.
It's basically just a simple story of a musician and an aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles, but to my surprise, this completely original work of art totally works on every level. On the surface as portraying "La La Land" (upper case) it's a visual delight, and made me want to buy a ticket this morning for the City of Angels, and possibly move there. On a deeper, darker note, its an examination of "la la land" (lower case), as in the figure of speech for people who are out of touch with the realities of life. In other words, people in La La Land, living in la la land.
The music is haunting and beautiful, and I will be acquiring the soundtrack asap.
Many themes are touched on here...the consequences of our decisions, and how life plays out in the big picture...the complication of relationships...the conflict that most artists face when it comes to maintaining creative integrity and authenticity and having to possibly sell out to make a living...the exploration of parallel realities and living with regret about what might have been...
What sets this story apart, however, is that there doesn't seem to be an attachment to a best-case scenario in love and life. It all just is what it is, and La La Land somehow strikes a beautiful balance between looking at every bit of it with realistic eyes, while maintaining the romance of it all. In fact, this is one of the most truly romantic films that I've ever seen, and it has the happiest "sad" ending that I've ever witnessed. I related to that part deeply, and still left the theatre feeling exhilarated. Hence, the word "transcendent".
I'm still trying to figure out how they filmed the opening sequence of people jumping out of their cars and dancing and singing in the middle of an LA traffic jam. You have to see it to understand what I mean, but that part is really a technological marvel.
I'll be very surprised is this one doesn't sweep the Oscars.