Don’t get the wrong idea here. I absolutely LOVED the film! From crooning its songs in the shower, to dancing to them in my bedroom, there’s no part of my house without a whiff of ‘La La Land’. The lyrics have been etched into my conscience like a barnacle to a boat. The jaw-dropping authentic locations have found a way to the back of my retinas.And I am not the only one with these side effects. It has been widely predicted to sweep the majority of awards, and in particular the four big ones. But still, I firmly believe that ‘La La Land’ should fall one short of that magical number.
Describing ‘La La Land ‘is like describing a lifelong fetish come true. For cinephiles in particular, along with many others in this case, the film was an orgasmic experience. Resplendent with colorful sets, appealing attire and sumptuous sun drenched locations, the visual splendor literally never ceased to amaze us. The fact that the two leads learned everything from scratch just adds to the cause. In spite of all these factors, the film winning the award would be an aberration. The Academy has had a vestigial tradition of honoring movies that conform to social causes. And though there have been occasions when this detour has occurred, the general trend has been to lean toward socially relevant films. We live in a time where people with the so-called petty jobs such as a janitor and handymen are looked down upon. They are ostracized from the society and are made to feel bad about themselves. This discrimination and disregard for them emanates from typical societal stereotypes such as their low education, poor sanitation and them being “not good enough”.
‘Manchester by the Sea’ in this regard, was an achievement in terms of overcoming these taboos. A story of a janitor incumbent with the responsibility of being the legal guardian of his deceased brother’s son, it also entails how he became one through his tumultuous life sojourn. It not only was beautifully filmed, but also presented a different point of view telling the tale from the other side. Lee Chandler, played by Casey Affleck, had a college education, could have been a professional baseball player and had a happy family, living in a 2-BHK he owned. Through traumatic incidents in his life, the film captures how circumstances forced him to retreat in a shell and ultimately to being a janitor. Kenneth Lonergan manages to create an important epiphany through the film of not judging a book by its cover.
Lee is then forced to further deal with the loss of his only brother and the added responsibility of taking care of his only son. Their constrained relationship is presented through an engaging narration, often making the viewer vacillate between empathizing and loathing Lee’s character. The additional problem of drinking that Lee suffers from adds to his growing litany of frustrations. A splendid performance by the entire ensemble, especially that by Casey Affleck (who’s probably going to lose the Best Actor to Denzel Washington) make the film an evocative and provocative venture for the audience.
‘La La Land’ on the other hand shadows the lives of Mia, a struggling actress, and Sebastian, a “serious” musician fighting to save jazz by hoping to own a club. The electric chemistry between the leads and an anti-climactic end make the movie to be a potpourri of sad and happy. The crisp screenplay, Chazelle’s direction and the musical score of the movie make it a one of a kind movie. It recently grossed $200 million dollars at the box office, proving it to be a huge blockbuster and a loving film. Their tryst with reality is a bit superficial, with the film underlying a theme of dreams coming true. It loses its grip with reality, unlike ‘Manchester by the Sea’, which keeps unraveling itself with every scene.
Well, this is my opinion. Yours might be different, so don’t get angry and start hurling abuses and chairs at my head!