Viewed – 20 May 2017 Blu-ray
Probably the most celebrated movie of the last twelve months that swept up at each award ceremony, gaining Oscars, Baftas and Golden Globes a plenty. I must admit I was intrigued and have always enjoyed a good musical. This stars Emma Stone as a young woman with a dream of becoming an actress who waits tables at a cafe on the Warner Brothers studio back lot. At the same time we have Ryan Gosling’s talented Jazz pianist trying to make a name for himself with dreams of opening his own, old-school Jazz bar. These two strangers it seems, are destined to meet and so we have what appears to be a classic Hollywood love story, peppered with the occasional grand song and dance routine.
A nostalgic homage to Hollywood of old, ala Rogers & Hammerstein or Doris Day musicals but with a contemporary setting. Should work wonders, huh? Well … the problem here is, these two actors lacked chemistry and their central love story, going from disliking, to tolerating, to falling in love etc. just didn’t engage … I just didn’t really get caught up in any of it. Every time you’d expect some convincing emotion or actual depth to their relationship, they’d break into a dance routine or a song instead. I’m sure it’s all meant to be symbolic but it just made their relationship ‘meh’ at best. This is not helped by some very vague story details and forgettable supporting characters (Stone has a boyfriend at one stage…not that you’d remember him). Thankfully the movie is packed with eye-catching dance routines, at times stunning visuals, great choreography and colourful costumes. However along with forgettable actual songs (nothing really stands out) and principle leads you feel are better off not being together … something has gone horribly wrong.
The movie saves itself somewhat in the closing moments and the final interactions between Gosling and Stone are quite touching. Both stars are also very good, proving themselves capable singers (with Stone especially having a fantastic solo moment) … however with such a focus on re-creating a bygone era and less focus on delivering an engaging story, I felt this ultimately failed. Worth watching for Gosling and Stone and some great dance numbers, just don’t fall for the hype.
Verdict: 3 /5