Because you and I have bigger things to worry about, I have kept my list of the crimes of the film La La Land to just 10. I present them here in no particular order, although some are more egregious than others.
- The film uses Black people as props, mainly as jazz musicians whose music we can hear but who have no spoken lines. The exception is John Legend, but then he is more famous and popular than the stars themselves. (The casting director also has about two sentences of speech.) Ryan Gosling’s character feels justified in grabbing a woman of color on the street and dancing with her to the distress of her husband. After all, this white man is about to save jazz and its history.
- Emma Stone’s character dumps her dear women friends and roommates the minute she gets a man and we don’t see them again until they turn up loyally to her sparsely attended one-woman show.
- Neither Stone nor Gosling can dance or sing. This is a musical and we must suffer their squeaks and stumbles throughout. The only real dancing is a tiny couple in silhouette, clearly “stunt” people.
- There isn’t a shred of attraction or passion between the lovers. Even in bed they remain dressed. They barely touch. They never sizzle. They only get a bit excited when they’re talking about their ambitions.
- They’re privileged and self-absorbed. They’re supposed to be impoverished unemployed artists, but she drives a Prius, and they never mention money or worry about it. Their only concerns have to do with becoming rich and famous.
- Their cell phones only seem to work one way: incoming calls. They are frequently interrupted by their ringing cell phones, but when she’s not going to make it to their first date and when he’s going to miss her opening night, they don’t call. He drives uninvited to another state to deliver a third party phone message to her.
- The special effects are annoying. They’re not very special and they go on and on.
- The dual ending seems like a focus-group quandary and a cheap solution for a director/writer (Damien Chazelle) in way over his head. As my friend observes, the director lacks the confidence of his storytelling.
- The biggest crime? The film is excruciatingly boring. Who gives a fuck about these people and their drippy problems?