Walking out of this movie when the credits roll, I was a wreck. My eyes were red and puffy from crying halfway through to the end of the movie. I was so affected by this movie that I woke up the next day feeling emotional, I cried when I listen to Mia and Sebastian’s theme song. Now that I’ve somewhat recovered (breathe in, breathe out…), I can finally think clearly and put into words my thoughts on this movie.
I just can’t get over this trailer!
Directed by Damien Chazelle (this guy’s awesome, check out Whiplash if you haven’t!), La La Land (2016) is a modern-day musical that tells the love story between Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone), two dreamers trying to make it in LA. Sebastian is a jazz piano player who is passionate about this genre of music and dreams about having his own jazz club someday. Mia is an aspiring actress who goes to countless auditions while having a day job at a cafe in a studio lot in Hollywood. Long story short, they casually bumped into each other a few times and eventually fell in love.
Let’s be honest, musical is my least favourite film genre. But any movie lovers out there understands that genre doesn’t have a say in whether or not a movie is worth watching. From the technical aspects to the acting, I just couldn’t find a flaw with this movie. But what’s more important and makes La La Land works for me is the main story; the dreamers.
La La Land is written and directed by a guy who understands the struggles and went on to achieve his dreams. His story is told through dialogues and songs which surprisingly, highly enjoyable and not the least annoying which, in my opinion, seems to happened a lot in musicals. Characters don’t just burst into songs and dances for no reasons, the transitions between events/dialogues to the musical performances are seamless. Take for example, the opening scene where we hear different genre of music playing in the radio as the camera pans from one car to another and finally we got to the car where the girl starts singing Another Day of Sun. And the scene where Seb and Mia perform A Lovely Night… My heart hasn’t soar so high in such a long time!
The chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is great that their romantic relationship is so believable. The couple’s hopes, dreams, ambitions and struggles are so real and relatable that you can’t help but rooting for them from the moment you get to know their characters. This is the exact reason why many people find the ending bittersweet or even heartbreaking.
Now, let’s get to the part where I got all emotional…
I relate to Mia as a character and her story the most. I’m one of those people who fell in love with the romantic notion of being an artist and in my case, a writer. In one scene, she took all the words from my mouth, even my husband told me afterwards that Mia reminds him of me. Little did he knew, I was crying my eyes out at that scene.
Mia: Maybe I’m one of those people that has always wanted to do it but it’s like a pipe dream for me, you know? And then you – you said it. You change your dreams and then you grow up.
This movie breaks my heart in the most beautiful way possible. It understands that sacrifices has to be made in order to achieve your dreams. It also doesn’t holds back when it comes to showing the emotionally painful aspects of Seb and Mia’s relationship and their struggle to keep it all together.
Unlike the typical Golden Age Hollywood musicals, La La Land diverged from the fulfilling ending template with the lovers happily ride off to the beautiful sunset in each other’s arms. In fact, what makes this movie so great is its unconventional ending. It presented the audience the simple notion that a happy ending doesn’t necessary means that the main characters stays together and/or in love. In the end, Seb and Mia achieved their dreams and we’re supposed to be happy for them, right? I remember the two girls sitting next to me gasping and let out a dissapointing sighs when, fast forward five years later, Mia is shown to be with another man and has a baby. I swear that every heart in that theater hall that evening sank too the moment they watched that very sequence.
Now that I no longer see their relationship through rose-tinted glasses (seriously, I thought about this for two days!), I realized that Mia and Sebastian aren’t right for each other for the long run. They looked perfect together but in reality, their dreams set them to go on divergent paths.
The movie wraps up beautifully with a sequence of Sebastian’s version of an ideal life with Mia shown through some home-video montage and a dream ballet of what could’ve been. In his dreams, Mia achieved her dreams, they have a child and they all live happily together. It all seems perfect except that he doesn’t have his jazz club. Then as Mia gets up to leave, they locked eyes for the last time, exchanging a knowing look and smile before she left the jazz club with her husband. This is definitely one of the most beautiful movie endings I have seen in my life. EVER.
La La Land is ultimately a love letter to dreamers and the romance they get to live. Highly entertaining, La La Land is definitely my favourite musical ever made.