Jazz, romance, dance and Los Angeles traffic jams: La La Land is a musical film about passion and heartbreak, hope and doubt, but most importantly, it tells the story of love.
At first glance, the story appears to be a cliché one: a hypocritical young pianist, Sebastian, meets a wannabe actress, Mia, and what starts as flirtatious banter develops into a serious romance. The two meet in Los Angeles, which is supposed to be the city of unyielding passion and farfetched dreams. However, Seb has lost sight of his real pursuit, which is opening his own Jazz club, and Mia has given into the fear that her acting career may never truly shine.
If the story were just cliché, it would’ve stopped when the lovers encourage each other to find themselves and pursue their actual dreams, but instead, the ending is quite unexpected. The movie is about more than love between two people, and is instead about love and passion in a grander sense. #goals. She turns out to be right. They finally make it.
Mia and Seb are both fools who dare to dream and passionately love their dreams. In the song “The Fools Who Dream,” Mia claims that “a little bit of madness is key” to achieving their goals.
Such “madness,” though, requires sacrifice, and in the end, the film is about them sacrificing love for their dreams. The film ends five years later, with Mia, who is a successful actress and married to someone else, chancing upon Seb at his jazz club. As he plays the song of their once-passionate love, they look into each other’s eyes, imagining what it would’ve been like if they had never parted. As the music stops,, the light fixes on Seb’s smile for Mia. The smile isn’t a sad one; it’s one of sweet nostalgia, understanding, and closure. Even though their love didn’t last, they are happy about each other’s achievements, and the memories are still sweet.
Seeing the film is a dazzling experience. Soothing and romantic piano music interchanges with upbeat modern jazz. The optimistic hues of the film contrast with the realistic personalities of the characters. The main actors, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, are incredible in portraying their characters as fun, passionate and hopeful, as well as vulnerable, flawed and sometimes selfish. Both are also natural singers who beautifully deliver subtle emotions through song.
Overall, it is a fantastic movie and I highly recommend it to those who are romantics at heart and never stop dreaming.
(Copyright 2017 Chriss Liu)