Availability: Vue Cinema Leeds
Director: Damien Chazelle
I finally watched La La Land. At first, I was saying to myself that the reason why this film received so many Oscars and Golden Globes is beyond me. But, as the film progressed I realised I was thinking this only because I am not really a fan of musicals. Well, I am now and as of now I will be less impatient with them because they may reveal the most meaningful story ever. Just like the La La Land did.
The film received Oscars for the most prestigious categories such as best performance by an actress in a leading role, best achievement in directing and best achievement in Cinematography (Linus Sandgren), and Golden Globes for best motion picture, best performance by leading actor and actress, and best director (the full list of all awards is available at this link). Indeed, the acting is fantastic. Emma Stone is outstanding as Mia and Ryan Gosling is fabulous as Sebastian. All ambitions and emotions aspiring artists in Hollywood go through are portrayed with perfectionism. Even in some very good films, it is not always possible to feel the pain and emotions. In this film, it truly is.
However, convincing acting is not the biggest strength of this film. It is the story. The film narrates a story of two lovers who fall for each other in weird circumstances, i.e. running into each other in L.A. What unites them and what creates a connection is their passion for career and a clear path they wanted to follow. Thus, Mia left college to become an actress in L.A. (or La La Land) and she is struggling to succeed in an industry and city known for breaking hearts and crashing dreams. He, on the other hand, is a struggling piano player who dreams about having his own jazz bar. They fall for each other, and then end up being set apart with their careers. He goes on a tour and then she lands a big film role. The choices they make is something many people face in their lives. The choice between career and love. She follows her path and he follows his. At the end of the film we are faced with “5 years later” moment, and we expect a good old Hollywood happy end, which would not be a surprise since the film is a remake of old Hollywood musicals. But instead, we find out that she is a successful actress with a husband and a child, while he achieved the dream of being a successful jazz club owner and a pianist in his own bar.
They both got what they wanted due to the fact they supported each other while the life was still difficult. But, have they really got what they wanted? The pain they both show when again accidentally bumping into each other (when she comes to his club with her husband without knowing where she is going until she sees Seb’s name on the name of the bar and he walks to the stage), is almost unbearable. This speaks for the acting and justifies so many awards, but it also asks the ultimate question, what is the dream? To find love or to succeed in a career? Was all that effort worth the outcome when they lost love? But then equally, would they love each other had they given up and abandoned everything they worked for? Was it not the passion for art that created a bond between them in the first place?
To go back to my comment on acting and ability to feel everything, it suffices to say that I have experienced a deep sadness in the final scene of the movie when Sebastian sees Mia and when Mia sees her life and important milestones in her career with Sebastian and not her actual husband. Happiness we saw in that imaginary life of what could have been certainly portrays more happiness than what she has shown in scenes with her husband.
I suppose critics would say that this pain is not real, and that nobody should strive towards career in the entertainment industry. It is enough to look at documentary that exaggerates criticism of the entertainment industry Starsuckers to know what the criticism of the movie would be.
While Starsuckers exaggerated the way public relations industry work and moralised too much of what people should and should not want, it is a reality that many people do want a career in the entertainment industry and what they experience is vividly portrayed in this fabulous film. Nevertheless, one of the messages of the film is that people can succeed if they are persistent enough, and that even one strange encounter can change their lives forever. So, next time someone bumps into you and fails to even properly apologise like Sebastian did with Mia, do not kick off. You never know, maybe that person will save you from giving up and give you a good starting position in your career or strength to continue fighting for your dream. But then again, that person might break your heart too. Personal choices yet again.
Thank you for reading.