The shine is coming off of La La Land. The box-office smash and owner of a record tying 14 Oscar nominations premiered to rapturous reviews at film festivals last fall, but in the weeks that followed, and as the film screened for more and more critics, a backlash began to grow.
Chazelle captures that spirit which was fondly nostalgic even in Demy’s day – and releases it into the wilds of present day Los Angeles like he’s returning a long-absent species to its natural habitat.
Old Hollywood is where the movie musical first flourished, after all and though its golden age may be long gone, the film has faith that a boy, a girl, a bench and a plum-coloured sunrise are still capable of working their magic.
Once you’ve waltzed through the stars as do our lovers at the film’s halfway point, in an unabashedly gorgeous gravity defying fantasia the only way is down.
But everyone in La La Land is wrestling with ambition. In the opening number – there really is no mistaking the film is a musical from the get go attractive young hopefuls spill out of their cars in an impregnable traffic jam, and sing about the city’s daunting show-business heritage, and the grit it takes to even try to measure up to it