I may be a little late to jump onto the craze that is this film, but nonetheless I am ready to give my two cents. La La Land is a conventional love story with a very unconventional ending. Mia and Sebastian are both aspiring artists, her an actress, himself a jazz pianist, trying to find happiness and success in the city of Los Angeles. While trying to find success in their dreams and passions, they find each other.
Stone first reveals her woes as an aspiring actress in the number “Someone In the Crowd,” where she sings about how hard it is to find a good gig in LA, and how the only way to really get in is to find somebody by chance who will make you a star, a piece that resonates with many performers. We find out that Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian, is a jazz pianist who seems to only find luck in jobs that desire classic, well-known pieces (not really the kind of music he is down to play). He dreams of starting his own jazz club and bringing the genre back to life.
Their love story does not start out
strong. In fact, it takes three encounters before the two are somewhat civil with one another. Even then, they do a big tap number where they discuss how “they aren’t the type for [each other], and that they “simply feel nothing.” It takes Mia ditching her current boyfriend’s family dinner in order to see Sebastian, that their romance takes off. The two quickly spiral into a deep love story, each motivating one another to pursue their individual dreams. However this perfect scenario does not last very long. Once Sebastian’s touring career with his new band takes off, Mia gets upset, and it only gets worst when he misses her play for a photoshoot (what an asshole right)? The two manage to reconcile after that, but once Mia gets a major film role in Paris, we find out five years later that her and Sebastian split because of it.
The end of the film examines the alternative routes their love story could have taken. Everything between the two of them could have been different if just one encounter had been different. Beautifully shot, the audience is taken scene by scene throughout their lives. With dance, flashback, song, and elaborate sets, viewers are taken through an emotional roller-coaster, only to find out Mia marries another man, and Sebastian finally opens the jazz club he always wanted.
Though the two main characters do not end up together, the creators of the film get the audience to question whether or not happiness in self-success, or happiness in love is better? Should people give up their dreams in order to have the love and family they desire? Perhaps it is simply a fantasy and less a reality in today’s world to be able to find balance between pursuing one’s dreams at the expense of losing love. So which takes precedents love or success? What I found the most interesting is that both found happiness in either scenario. If anything, the film reassured me that there is delight in a multitude of scenarios within people’s lives. Maybe the very thing people believe will make them happy will not. It gives hope to the idea that the trajectories of life are fluid, and there is no one answer to the way people should plan and live their lives.