“La La Land”: masterpiece or fiasco? Our critics clash

Cinema 25 January, 2017

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In Los Angeles, a whirlwind of songs and ballets to magnify the impossible loves of two dreamers. Magical or insignificant?

Sadism of Whiplash , which revealed the American director Damien Chazelle , in 2014, there are still echoes in La La Land . As the young drummer of this film, drawn to the whip by a ruthless conductor, Mia ( Emma Stone ) and Seb ( Ryan Gosling ) cashing all kinds of humiliation on their respective paths: an acting career for She said, opening a jazz club for him. But these trials toward a hypothetical accomplishment are no longer the filmmaker’s only obsession. This is witnessed by the stunning opening scene on a saturated highway stretch of Los Angeles, direction Hollywood, where the two heroes appear only belatedly. Dozens of motorists leave their vehicles and begin to dance in the sun, to sing their joy, their enthusiasm for their city and its specialty, the show business.
In view of this myriad of characters, one might think of a choral film – in addition to being (often) sung. Wrong path. La La Land tightens on Mia and Seb. But remains, for more than two hours, formidably plural and abounding. The energy of Damien Chazelle, 32, pushes him to all kinds of acrobatics of staging and editing, but also to track the multiplicity of feelings and emotions behind each situation. The aspiring actress leaves defeated and wounded with auditions where she shines though. The pianist who interprets Ryan Gosling with an incomparable class fights for his projects, but he knows obsessed with a music (jazz pure and hard) in the process of extinction, or already disappeared. He lives alone, cluttered with relics related to his passion, in an apartment-mausoleum.
Damien Chazelle: “There is something rough in the world of ‘The Land'”

The love story itself is constantly changing in tone. As in the golden age of the Hollywood comedy, Mia and Seb first mutually aggressively each time they meet. Several clues suggest that the young woman’s desire for the musician is not reciprocal. Later, the intoxication of their feelings become imperious inspires Damien Chazelle superb choreographic variations on the theme of the flight … Then the film becomes a sharp treatise of disillusionment amoureuse against background of disgruntled professional aspirations. “You liked me better when I gibed, because it reassured you! ” Is Seb’s scathing reply to Mia after two seasons of life together.
For these lovers, there is something more appealing, greater than their love, and even their art: the dream. What they do about themselves, their history, their future. Fantasizing happiness is already happiness. Los Angeles is the city that transforms every banal moment into a cinema scene, the magical echo chamber that turns the daily to the most radiant fiction. Damien Chazelle does not deprive to film all the corners crossed by his two heroes like the mythical scenery that they were and remain. Including the observatory, if present in Rebel Without a Cause , Nicholas Ray, favorite movie of Sebastian.
This whirlwind of songs and danced numbers aspires to regain the luster of a legendary Hollywood. To speak only of the past twenty years, other films have more or less failed in this attempt: Nine (Rob Marshall), by academic and Moulin Rouge (Baz Luhrmann), by excess. La La Land is achieved through a rare balance between perfectionist devotion and concern replay. Even though Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have worked their songs and dances for many months, their emotional fragility at times detracts from their professionalism. Just as the American optimism of the film lets itself be lashed by melancholy. In the land of Singing in the Rain , glorious reference, unsurpassable, Damien Chazelle the conqueror gives free rein to his taste for Jacques Demy and impossible loves. – Louis Guichard

One has such a nostalgia for the American musicals of yore that one accepts the smallest current attempt with a kind of bliss, without asking any question. On the ability of Damien Chazelle to film ballets, for example. Except the first, the style beautifully evokes The Young Girls of Rochefort , they are a total flatness. Just like the main song, City of stars , obviously composed by Justin Hurwitz on two notes and a half to allow Ryan Gosling to interpret.
It’s perfect, Ryan Gosling. The best of the film is him: charming, elegant, like the hero of any “musical” self-respecting. It can not be said of Emma Stone, so beloved in Woody Allen ( Magic in the moonlight and Irrational Man ), infuriating here, abusing mines and pouts that the director did not, obviously, strength To forbid it.
Everything is slow, too slow. And long, too long. So slow, so long that the story of this couple that breaks down ends up pouring into insignificance. A beautiful subject, however, that the cruelty of time on graduates loves: to be remembered We Were , Sydney Pollack, where melancholy reunion Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford at a street corner in New York, gave the thrill. Or outcome, almost Chekhovian, the recently Café Society , where Woody Allen was cross remotely sad looks of Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg. The power relations between people (see Whiplash , his first feature film) seem more appropriate to the young director the inevitable erosion of feelings. This “chronicle of the poor lovers”, to use the title of an Italian film of the 1950s, totally indifferent. – Pierre Murat