Good evening internet beauties! I hope your week has been/is full of laughs, quality time, and celebration! Mine definitely has been. This was probably one of my most favorite Christmases yet, and I am so thankful to be home for the holidays this year! Tonight I want to tell you about my latest obsession, which is the movie La La Land! I have seen it twice in the last five days, and I have the soundtrack on repeat constantly! Yes, it sounds excessive, but if I’m going to attempt to put into words how amazing this movie is, and why I am obsessing over it. If you do not wish to read the synopsis, skip to the “Review” section to read my thoughts about the production!
This movie follows the stories of two hopeful artists – Mia who is an actress (played by Emma Stone), and Sebastian (played by Ryan Gosling) who is a jazz musician. They both are living in Los Angeles hoping to make it big, but unfortunately, the performer life has knocked them both on the ground. It is alluded early on in the film that Sebastian invested all of his money into a jazz gig, and was bamboozled by a shady guy who took all of his money from the investment. Mia has been in L.A. for six years and has yet to land even a small supporting role, and is currently a barista on the Warner Bros. film lot. As fate has it, their paths keep crossing until they decide to get to know each other. Sebastian swears he can’t be with a woman who hates jazz, but naturally, they fall in love and Mia comes to love the genre.
Moving forward, Sebastian and Mia are both dreamers who support each other’s big goals and dreams. Sebastian dreams of opening his own jazz club (staying true to classic jazz music), and Mia is a naturally-gifted playwright who dreams of acting in her own show she wrote. With Sebastian as the driving force to inspire Mia to write her own script for her one-woman show, Mia begins writing her play. Meanwhile, one night at a local jazz club, Sebastian and Mia run into one of Sebastian’s old classmates named Keith (played by John Legend), who offers him a spot as a keyboard player in his band. Sebastian, still tight on money, cautiously accepts the offer.
Sebastian comes to know the band (called “The Messengers”), and although they are a jazz band, the band is actually a jazz pop band that appeals to younger audiences, despite Sebastian’s oath to keep classic jazz alive. As the band gains popularity and go on tour, Mia and Sebastian’s relationship becomes strained. Mia doesn’t understand how Sebastian can be so committed to something he doesn’t believe in. Sebastian says he thought this is what she wanted for him – to have a stable source of income and to play music.
Later in the fall, Mia has booked a local theater and is all set to perform her one-woman show. Sebastian’s obligations to his band conflict with his personal life, and he decides to go to a band photoshoot instead of supporting Mia’s one-night only performance of the play she wrote and stars in. The audience at Mia’s play is sparse, and Sebastian is absent. Mia leaves the theater as Sebastian pulls up and attempts to apologize. Mia, sick of rejection, leaves to go home to Boulder City, Nevada. The following night, Sebastian receives a phone-call from a casting agent who was at Mia’s play, who wants her to come in for an audition for a movie. Sebastian travels to Boulder City to tell Mia the news, and convinces her to leave with him the next day to go to the audition.
At the audition, the casting directors instruct Mia to “tell them a story”, and inform her there is no script. Mia tells them a story in the form of a song “The Fools Who Dream”. Sebastian is no longer with “The Messengers”, but knows Mia landed the role. Mia and Sebastian are not sure where their relationship stands and she waits for a phone call as to whether or not she landed the role. Mia looks at each Sebastian with a bittersweet expression and says she will always love him. He tells her he will always love her too.
Flash forward five years later, Mia is a superstar actress visiting L.A. from New York with her husband (not Sebastian) and toddler daughter. After a night out in L.A. for dinner, Mia and her husband are walking to their car when they hear great music coming from a club. They walk in, and Mia realizes it is Sebastian’s jazz club. They grab drinks and sit down to listen to the band play. Mia’s husband the whole time is unaware of the significance of the club and who owns it. As the song concludes, Sebastian comes on stage to introduce the band members. He spots Mia in the crowd and he sits down at the piano to play one of the first songs Mia ever heard him play. The story flashes to Mia day-dreaming of how she wished her life happened – success for her and Sebastian with Sebastian at her side. Mia comes back to reality as Sebastian closes out the song in a quiet and somber piano tune. The crowd erupts into applause; Mia and her husband get up to leave. Mia’s husband walks out of the club first, but before Mia exits, she gazes back at the stage. Mia and Sebastian exchange bittersweet glances, but acknowledge they are happy for each other with faint smiles and head nods. She leaves and Sebastian counts 1, 2, 3, 4 to start a lively jazz song with the band.
This movie is everything I wanted it to be and more. The cast was absolutely amazing, the music was great and clever, and the choreography was reminiscent of Broadway, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, and West Side Story. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are not primarily singers or dancers, but they did a tremendous job despite what would have been limitations. Between the music, singing, waltzing and soft shoe tap dancing, they nailed every aspect of a classic Hollywood film.
One of my favorite Hollywood classics is Shall We Dance with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, and Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s characters capture the essence of Rogers and Astaire, but still manage to make their own characters unique and relatable to the 21st century. Characteristic of most Astaire and Rogers movies, the endings were always happy and gave the viewer what they were expecting. Contrarily, the ending of La La Land doesn’t give the audience what they want, and I think the realness and reality of modern-day long-distance relationships displayed in the film is a reason this movie feels so authentic.
The lyrics to every song in this movie also cleverly intertwine the storyline, and allude to the outcome of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship. I realized this as I’ve played the soundtrack on repeat, and confirmed my assumption today when I saw the movie for the second time. Even from the first song, “Another Day of Sun”, you can gather some information about what is going to happen to Mia and Sebastian. Yet, the lyrics don’t give clues that are too obvious either unless you are looking for them and unless you already know how the film ends.
Drinks before the movie tonight
I give this movie a 10/10. I highly recommend everyone see this film, even if they are not into Broadway or old Hollywood movies. This movie was created in Hollywood, USA (just like the classics), and I think this movie is going to leave a significant, almost historical impact on Hollywood movie production. I hope to see more films like La La Land in the future, because quite frankly I don’t remember ever seeing a movie in the last two years that has touched my heart the way this film has.
Have you seen La La Land? What do you think? Let me know!
Until next time – here’s to the fools who dream!