Given the ecstatic reception this movie got from most critics, I was surprised at how mediocre it was. Sure it looks great — everything is shot in what is, or is made to look like, Technicolor, including the costumes. The location shooting is outstanding — LA has rarely looked better, particularly at sunset. But the music and dance numbers are awful — barely at the level of a good high school production. And I don’t mean TV high school, but your high school. And while the characters played by the two lead actors, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, are supposed to be in love, there’s so little chemistry between them it’s hard to believe they even like each other. How Emma Stone won an Oscar for this vapid and insipid performance is beyond me. One of the few bright spots in this movie, outside of the cinematography, are the scenes involving John Legend, who is a better musician than anyone else involved in this movie — and a better actor too.
The last 15 minutes or so of the movie is an epilogue, told partly in live action and partly in a fantasy dreamscape, which presents the musings of one character on how things might have turned out had different choices been made. It’s magical, and an indication of what this director might be capable of in a future movie. But it comes far too late to save this one.