In its conventionalism, the professional critic bites the publicized hook of the homage of this film to Rebel without cause; which is true but secondary and snob, like almost everything in it, and therefore neglects its best resources. The result is a product of mixed quality, with positive balance but in relative and not absolute terms; with paradoxes like the obvious but unnoticed wink to the French classic Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, which does define and determine aesthetically. Moreover, thanks to Coppola's ascendancy, who plays in this film as the dramatic canon of One from the heart; as a character that does not curb but at least promises throughout the film, until the apotheosis before the end.
Lala land is thus a compendium of things with variable quality and rather unrelated, despite its careful dramaturgy; which is due to the profusion of effects and gratuitousness, that make it flounder without much sense of its own. Thus, although alluding to this European aesthetic of Jacques Demi and Michel Legrand, Lala land recognize the tradition of the American musical (An American in Paris); which is where its weakness comes from, because it tries to recreate the European transcendentalism and not the sweet banality on which it is based. With that reverie, most of the choreographed numbers are as splendid as unnecessary and excessive; which is a mortal sin in art, especially when you have so many pretensions, because it loses the possibility of an own sense.
Among the most scandalous mistakes, the number in which she has to change her shoes to dance; making predictable what was supposed to develop spontaneously, when the whole scene is so weak that depends on that spontaneity. Such inconsistency is understood if one observes the rather short career of the director, with much worship of his own supposed genius; even if concealed as a cult of the no less presumed spirit of jazz, which stands out here in an ontology more inconsistent than evangelical pastor's discourse. As false critical pragmatism, the film features the speech and voice of the fabulous John Legend; that seems to remind to the bland and daring Sebastian (Gosling) what he is, a drop of milk in a glass of flies.
However, such reference would require a measured approach to the personal aesthetics of this director; who with only a couple of documents about his own snobbery, it has yet to prove that he deserves so much and so specialized attention. Between what is not negative but not positive either, is the cast, which has to deal with the musical structure without enough personality for it; from a Ryan Gosling that is not Gene Kelly, much less Fred Astaire, to an Emma Stone who does not give it so bad. Stone is much better than Gosling, but her character is the supportive, not vice versa, and also depends on the choreographer; he is not bad but is not spectacular either, he is far from being a monster of performance and still the world has memory of the kings of musicals that were Astaire and Kelly.
Of course, and as revealing the banality of the director, Gosling puts what he has best, and is the sideview backlit with the fringe on the forehead; that is, the cliché of the pure jazzist, who fabricates the most false aesthetics to justify his own lack of transcendence. Back to values, there is that moment before the end, that enters the introspection of what life would have been if it were not what it is; which also makes excellent handling of a surprise element that must not be revealed, and which shows that good drama is still possible; and it’s performed in a fairly large segment, in which you can recognize all that great texture of the tradition to which it responds. Lala land is then like a twist, that recreates in its innocence the metaphor of An American in Paris; like that aesthetic reverence to the French canon with the robust character of the America, a drama that can be attended despite its inconsistency.