I sit here writing this reflection while listening to the LA LA Land soundtrack because it simply inspires me. Oh, and just to forewarn you: this is a opinion piece about the film, so if you haven't seen it, GO SEE IT, then come back and join the discussion!
Do you ever leave the movie theatre feeling invigorated, inspired, and completely captivated by a story? Well, this is one of those films that will leave you feeling that way if you even have a shred of dreamer in your soul.
This movie invites an audience of any and all backgrounds to follow a journey of two artists trying to pursue their dreams in Hollywood - who also happen to fall in love along the way. Here are some of the of the reasons why it was brilliant (enough for me to see it twice in theaters) and important take-aways from this motion picture...
Firstly, even though the film takes place in modern times, they brought back a mezmerizing simplicity not only in costumes but in cinematography. I am a big fan of old movies; if Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, or Humphrey Bogart are in it, then I have most likely seen and love it. The main reason being that there is always an intriguing storyline without all of the ostentatious extras or extremes, some would say, that are added to movies these days. I feel it makes it easier to connect with the characters and their stories. Additionally, this film reintroduces some legendary film sets from movies like Casablanca and Rebel Without a Cause which is amazing to see they are still in existence.
The fact that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are the last two people I would have imagined doing a musical makes it even more enchanting. I love that even though they may not be the most remarkable singers and dancers, they have a chemistry and witty banter that dazzles us throughout the film. They represent a kind of love that we should all aspire to have - one where two people relentlessly support each other in following their dreams and not settling for anything less, even if it means they can't be part of the other's dream. We see the same selfless ending (although the exact details of what happened over time are left to interpretation) where Seb is willing to let Mia go away to Paris to pursue her acting dream even though he is in love with her and tells her she has got to give it "everything she's got" as we do in Casablanca when Rick sends Ilsa off on a plane with her other suitor because he knows she will be safer that way and able to live a happy life. There is just something so raw and real about these endings even though we are all rooting for them to end up happily ever after, it is refreshing to see an unpredictable ending such as these.
There are some other really important lessons to take away from this film that I feel should be highlighted. We learn by watching Seb's character -discouraged with the progress of opening his own jazz club and feeling the pressure of adhering to society's expectation of finding a steady job- decide to join a band that plays music he doesn't enjoy, that true satisfaction does not come from following someone else's dream. However, this is sometimes a necessary part of the journey to get you where you want to go.
We learn something significant from Mia's character as well, as we watch her spirits beaten down by the rejection of casting agencies in Hollywood. She decided to create her own role in a pursuit to bring back the theatre and ultimately reaches one of her darkest moments after the show where she leaves L.A. and goes home to her parents, ready to come up with a new life plan because acting is hurting her too much. It is only then that finally gets a call for her dream role and Seb will not let her pass it up. This is powerful for two reasons: One, the universe has a way of putting the right people into your life to guide you towards your dreams (like Seb) if you allow it and pay attention to your intuition. Two, the moment you stop searching and stressing over the things you want to happen in your life, doors open up for you as long as you are being your authentic self. Mia didn't land her dream role through following the dull scripts given to her pretending to be someone else, she got it when she put herself out there in a way that may not have been traditional but she was passionate about. Which leads me to present my favorite line from the movie: "People will love it because you're passionate about it and people love what other people are passionate about."
The best part is that the fictional plot of this movie involves two people desiring to bring back what they believe are dying forms of art (jazz and theatre) and I believe this movie has shown that there really is still a place and appreciation for this in present day life. Unless you are living under a rock, you have heard of this movie and about all of the awards and praise it is receiving. The first time I went to see it with my grandparents and I wasn't really sure if it would be something they would enjoy nor did I know what to expect. However, as the ending credits rolled, my grandpa said "I didn't know they made movies like that anymore." I have heard people with little interest in dancing, singing, or romantic movies say that it was amazing. No matter who you are, you can find something or someone to relate to in this film. It shines a different light on Hollywood in my eyes - painting it as a place where the dreamers, creators, and forward-thinkers go to cultivate beautiful stories like this one that inspire us all to follow our dreams.