That was sure a couple of movies jammed into one two hour window!
And I liked it. Danny Boyle’s a great director working with stylistic flair. The primary beats of the movie are completely fantastic. It’s a dream, perhaps literally: it’s constantly playing with space and time. The titles tell us we’re in Los Angeles before we get there. Conversations don’t miss a beat while characters instantly teleport over the space of miles.
Kate McKinnon is playing a Suffolk schoolteacher’s imaginary version of a music executive. It’s a fantasy! If you’re critiquing this movie because it doesn’t make sense, well —
But you actually have every excuse, because there’s this second movie going on simultaneously. It’s this grounded romantic comedy featuring the tremendously charming duo of Himesh Patel and Lily James. They’re so great.
That movie is about a guy who needs to realize that he’s abusing his friend’s love for him and turn it around before it’s too late. This is a bit awkward, since the dream he’s got to surrender is the dream of musical success. The seam between the two movies is well-constructed, but I don’t love that message.
It’s dissonant, too. Patel’s Jack Malik is Teflon except when it comes to Elle. There is literally nobody else in his life who holds him to any consequence whatsoever. It’s a dream, so sure, but it meshes poorly with the degree of real drama we get out of the romcom portion of the evening.
(And he’s really an asshole at times. There’s one decision he makes which is wholly cruel to three people, two of whom don’t deserve it.)
I still gave it three and a half stars on Letterboxd. It’s a beautiful fantasy about how much music matters and some of the staging gave me chills and some of it made me tear up.