If you haven’t watched La La Land, stop reading and go watch it. And don’t say it doesn’t matter because you’ll never watch it – I really think you should. Anyhow, onwards!
While the magic is still causing my head to pound and shortening my breath, I’d like to retain this emotion for future discovery: La La Land was captivating, and I’m so glad it was recommended to me. At first, the inner cynic in me criticized the impossibility of the opening scene; sure, like all of LA’s road-raging drivers are just going to pop out of their cars one by one and join in song and dance *eyeroll*. But as the film progressed, I found myself trying to be cynical about it, trying to see it as predictable, and yet falling in love with how Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone found one another. The only voice left in my head was the one urging me to quit ruining the movie and breathe it in, so I did.
What caught me off guard was how small moments here and there chipped away at the emotional exoskeleton, leaving me utterly undone by the film’s end. Here, I’m going to confess to breaking a sacred rule of theater-attendance: using my phone. I couldn’t resist typing out quotes that I really liked or moments that reminded me of a more idealistic time in my life. Here are a few of them:
- As Sebastian strongly rejects his sister’s suggestion of a partner for him, he shouts at her from his doorway while she leaves, “I’m a phoenix rising from the ashes!”
- When Mia says one line for the audition and gets rejected, she sees the Rialto and thinks of the plan to see Rebel Without a Cause with Sebastian and cheers up.
- The absolute madness that happens at Griffith Observatory followed by the massive crescendo when the plot allows them to let lips do as hands do
- When Sebastian gets to Mia’s place at a bit past 8 and she’s not there, he drives away right as Mia touches the car, leaving her in shock and explaining herself, saying, “I got coffee,” to which Sebastian (in an attempt to stay cool) says, “Great.”
- Just the whole song “Here’s to the Ones Who Dream,” as Mia auditions for the part
- When Sebastian says, “I know these things,” and Mia asks him, “Where are we?” wanting clarification on where they are in their relationship, but Sebastian responds with, “Griffith Park”
Ultimately, the movie helped me remember. It’s not a movie filled with pomp in its circumstances, it doesn’t have the distinguished prestige that some films have, but what it does for the heart is nothing short of magic. At a time when I couldn’t be further from wanting to even think about romantic gestures, I walked straight into possibly the one film that got me to shake hands with my idealism of old. Something about its disarming charm coupled with its raw, genuine ending left me. as the youths say, shook. It’s a love story that ends about as well as you’d expect a love story between a jazz pianist and a struggling actress to end – opposites attract, romance blooms, and then growing up (to use their term) happens. And maybe that’s why it spoke so softly to me. It was familiar idealism met with bittersweet realism at the close. It was beauty finished with heartache. It was poetry written for a hardened heart; free jazz to some, but surely an unshakable melody for all.
Here’s to the fools who dream – crazy, as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that break; here’s to the mess we make.