La La Land
So, yesterday I finally watched ‘La La Land’. After hearing so much about it, the fact that it has been nominated for what feels like a million awards, I didn’t really know what to expect… would I love it? And if I didn’t, did I completely misinterpret what was meant to be perceived as pure cinematic brilliance?
I probably don't need to give an introduction to the film as it's been everywhere recently and unless you've actively avoided it or live under a rock you've definitely heard about it through the grapevine. Directed by Damien Chazelle (think 'Whiplash') 'La La Land' is about two dreamers (Gosling and Stone) living in LA trying to accomplish their big Hollywood dreams and the challenges that come as part of the package.
Now, having watched it I can say that it lived up to expectations… it’s the kind of film that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside that you would watch again just to recapture, even if the ending was bitter sweet. Still, are there films that I think I better than ‘La La Land’ yes, but did they leave me with the same feeling?... No… During the whole film you were rooting for the main characters, you couldn’t help but fall in love with the Stone/Gosling duo especially when they are constantly dancing or flirting their socks off against beautiful LA back drops.
‘La La Land’ was not only charming but drummed home the realism of Hollywood and in a society becoming increasingly celebrity obsessed it couldn’t have come at a better time.
There’s something about the feel good nature of the film that makes you want to watch it over and over again, something I didn’t think I would say about a musical because I thought I actively disliked them, although my love for ‘La La Land’, ‘Dream Girls’ and the theatre seems to be proving otherwise. But what I think that I liked the most was the realistic portrayal of how tough this dream of glitz and glamour is to really achieve.
That’s why I think that ‘La La Land’ stuck a chord with me and why I loved it, I loved the realism (well, to an extent) of the film … that just because you're good-looking and talented with a big dream, which Stone and Gosling’s characters both are, it doesn’t mean that the road to stardom will always lead to a happy ending.
That's why my opinion was a but divided on the fact that both characters got their happy ending, although the film does try and throw in a curveball with the whole 'but did they really, if they couldn't realise their dream together' angle. I thought that the film had done so well so far with adding a degree of realism to plot with Sebastien being successful but at the cost of betraying his passion, and Mia still finding no success after working her ass off for six years and then finally conforming to a conventional career in law (although she didn't follow through). Being a 20-something year old in their shoes trying to carve out a modelling career, it was at this point that the film really resonated with me. Because as Stone rightly said there’s constantly a skinnier, taller, prettier version of yourself sat in the waiting seat next to you, which makes it tempting to think that the sensible path of pursuing a 9am-5pm following university with a steady income is the smarter option.
But if ‘La La Land’ taught me anything it’s that it’s important to keep your hope alive and I think that that's one of the things that the director wanted to get across. Although it had the typical fairy tale ending with both characters achieving their Hollywood dream - sacrifice was highlighted in the sense that if Mia and Sebastien had put their love for each other first they may not have continued to chase their individual passions. If Mia supported Sebastien on tour rather than rehearse for her one woman show she may not have impressed the agent, similarly if Sebastien had followed Mia to Paris he may not have opened his own bar. I think this sacrifice aspect also applies in reality because where fairy tale endings aren't guaranteed, what are you willing to give to continue to pursue yours? - your passion (like Sebastien when he joined the band), potentially the love of your life (like Mia) or just the comfort of security that a conventional career tends to offer. And I think that it is because of this, 'La La Land's ability to relate to so many people, that makes it such a likeable and enjoyable film.
Overall, I enjoyed my trip to 'La La Land'. It was a feel good movie that ticked all the boxes in terms of a romcom musical that I would recommend it and watch it again. That said I can't say for certain that it is in my top 3 movies, which probably goes against popular opinion... maybe this is just because I'm not a sucker for musicals or maybe just because as amazing as 'La La Land' that's just it, it's just an amazing film but not one that will be remembered in years to come.