Bursting onto the big-screen with a high note of retro glamour, glitz and style, La La Land is one of the most daring original movie musicals in a long time. In addition to vibrantly illustrating stylized trimmings of Hollywood musicals from the ‘40s and ‘50s blended with an ardent Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers flair, it’s no wonder this breathtaking, heartfelt homage to silver screen classics is one of the best films of 2016.
Winner of seven Golden Globes, recipient of 11 BAFTA nominations and soon to be the expected winner at the 89th Annual Academy Awards for Best Picture, La La Land is not just any musical though with beautiful costumes and twirling. It’s a luscious and vivacious look into the world of dreamers who power through reality to accept change.
Following the lives of two dreamers, La La Land is quick to highlight its character-based plot with two artists and their respective dreams. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist hoping to open his own jazz club, while Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress attending audition after audition. Drawn together by their common desire to do what they love, the two begin a love affair complete with song and dance that’s reminiscent of Astaire and Rogers dancing “Cheek to Cheek.” But as they each find success, their decisions begin to fray at the fragile fabric of their relationship and threaten to rip them apart.
In his multicolored and impassioned third feature, director, Damien Chazelle portrays love at its finest. But the 31-year-old filmmaker also asks young, driven millennials who dream beyond the norm, is it possible to have it all?
With a haunting soundtrack and elegant style, La La Land is a wistful, romantic story (presented in CinemaScope!) we can only hope becomes a stepping-stone into the lavish musical genre of yesteryear. But aside from the film’s characters trying to survive in glittery Hollywood is that of their respective dreams, passionate about seeing a full-fledged manifestation.
For those who aspire to hit the stage professionally, who have no desire to live out their No. 2 dream, or who will fight tooth and nail to get to where they want to be, “foolish as they may seem” — this is the film for you. Paying respect to the stubborn hearts who dare to light up and live beyond practicality (complete with spoilers — you have been warned), La La Land is a film full of meaning with lessons we can truly appreciate in hopes to ignite a greater purpose.
We’re all catalysts for one another
In many ways, Sebastian and Mia are soul mates. You might not think it considering the ending, but their relationship is built on love and a common admiration for each other’s dreams. As a connection deep and blending with each other’s, these two share a unique destiny and in a romantic sense, will always be meant for each other. But as any true soul mate knows and understands, where there is potential for the greatest love, there’s also potential for the greatest pain. In life we are all catalysts for the one another and the greatest loves in our life are no different. We might not get the “happy ending” we ask for, but everything and every relationship serves a higher purpose and thus, serves as a great influence on who we can be tomorrow. Those we meet along our journey have the power to shape our values, commitments and sense of worth. Yet, the reality is that nothing ever changes until something moves.
In this understanding, all relationships are initially present for inner growth. Stemming from love and affection, we push each other for a reason to be better, to do better — and the same applies when Mia pushes Sebastian back into his initial dream, asking him to not compromise himself. No matter how a relationship goes, ensure that your partner is your biggest cheerleader, like Mia and Sebastian were for each other. If you don’t have a partner like that in life who can unabashedly hold you accountable for your dreams, encourages and understands your work or vision, what exactly are you doing? Therein lies a philosophy that the very reason someone is in your life and them in yours is for a change you could never achieve alone. While life is tough and relationships are tougher, nothing is ever truly wasted if it has helped you achieve a higher purpose.
Building resilience is key
We all try to organize our lives the way we want them most — great job, happy relationship and overall fulfillment. But in all its beauty and frustrations, life is never want we imagine it to be. La La Land saw Mia heading to audition after audition with no luck, while Sebastian couldn’t play his own musical numbers no matter where he worked. But one of the keys to understand through their journey was that of resilience. When you dream big, it gets competitive and at times, soul destroying. However, nothing is easily achieved in life without having a thick skin. It’s understandable that every “no” you experience in life will feel like a personal attack or that you’re just not good enough. But how hard are you willing to work for it to prove your insecurity wrong?
The second you give someone power to make or break you, there is nothing more to work for, so be clear about your goals and create a positive dialogue for yourself. Think about what you can do to improve your situation and then take action. Resilience is built when you work on solving problems and embracing the situation without letting yourself get paralyzed by the negativity. Mia was able to do that for herself when she began writing her one-woman show, even though she needed someone like Sebastian soon after to push and motivate her to try again.
Dreaming is vital to the existence of a colorful life
Captured in the same vein of old Hollywood musicals with a 2.55:1 CinemaScope aspect ratio, La La Land has an astonishing vibrancy with luxurious coloring, lighting and blocking. While Chazelle might have chose that form of filming in order to tell a contemporary story about dreamers trying to make it in “la la land,” one can’t help but wonder of the connection between dreams and color. In a mindful way, it feels as if Chazelle captured the essence of these characters and their dreams through its lively coloring. Harnessing that concept for La La Land makes it even more special as the two dreamers find a way to paint their ambitions throughout the film with color and music. But one of the most important takeaways is while color accents dreams and lifts them to higher feats, dreams and an ambitious imagination are a necessary asset in life. Without taking big leaps into our imagination and wonder, we lose the excitement of possibilities. While Mia and Sebastian love each other, the real romance is found in the shimmer of their dreams.
Without dreams, we would feel unfulfilled and have no ambitions to chase. Nonetheless, with dreams come responsibility. It is never just enough to dream up something and forget about it because it might not seem practical. Dreaming is a form of planning for a colorful life. Like the colors that flourish throughout the seasons (a clever, linear way of storytelling in La La Land), you have to constantly work at them because only then do you feel a deep purpose. Without these aspirations, there is no motivation and if you have no motivation, you will never improve your circumstances. You will remain in a stagnancy that invites stagnancy. One of the best lessons we can take from La La Land is that dreaming provides you with an attitude of constantly doing better. Failures may arise, but it is in our attitude and admiration that energizes us to keep moving forward. If you don’t follow your dream and work for it, how else do you live life?
La La Land is now in theaters, across the country.
What did you think of La La Land? What lessons did you take away from the film? Share with us in the comments below.