La La Land, a feel-good movie that pays homage to the stylings and trappings of Old-Hollywood, sweeps us into trance of romance, dreams and fantasy. Everything from Sebastian’s tweed suit to the film’s snazzy show-tunes are reminiscent of a bygone era. The kind of old school romance that has become more and more rare in the age of entertainment commerce and tinder relationships.
One of the most memorable scenes for me was when Mia hears the jazz music playing in the background and decides to abandon her date to meet Sebastian. It is her relationship with Sebastian that teaches her to appreciate the beauty in everyday, small things.
The real tension in the film is between fantasy and reality. Right in the opening scene of the film, this is exemplified when the morning commuters leap out of their cars and belt their hearts out in a cheerful number, accompanied by dancing and acrobatics. After the opening number of Another Day of Sun, everyone crawls back into their cars, and resumes their daily trudge through the LA traffic.
Throughout the film, we are swept up into the fantastical world of Chazelle’s creation with the twirl and glide of the camera. Yet the film never fails to bring us down to reality once in a while, as the characters face economics and social challenges to their goals
The film takes all those delightful LA clichés – land of artists and wannabe celebrities, eternal sunshine and traffic – and romanticizes it. With its vivid colors, picturesque scenes of classic LA landmarks… the line between dream and reality is blurred.
La La Land is also a movie about having the courage to pursue your dream. In the musical romance, Ryan Gosling plays a struggling Jazz musician forced to sacrifice musical integrity to make ends meet, while Emma Stone is a struggling actress/barista who tries to fulfill her dreams by running to auditions for odd jobs and gigs, only to face repeated rejection.
Mia and Sebastian chase their dreams relentlessly. Whether it is Sebastian’s unwillingness to compromise, or Mia’s rejection of rejection itself, it’s all very inspiring. There is something relatable about their experiences. When Mia says “Maybe I’m just not good enough?” We all have that secret passion or dream that we long to but are afraid to pursue.
Before we went to watch La La Land, my friend and I were bemoaning the long-list of papers and midterms waiting for us. We were weighed down by the burden of reality and our own expectations. As we walked out of the theatre though, our footsteps were a little lighter, our hearts a little brighter. That was what La La Land offers us, the chance to step out of our own mundane lives and dream for a while.
And maybe a little fairy tale is exactly what we need in life.