It is not often something stops you dead in your tracks. That one thing that makes you feel like nothing else in the world matters. That thing that never leaves you. For me, that was La La Land.
I remember the first time I saw the film in theaters. I begrudgingly went with my brother to the Cinemark near the Antelope Valley Mall. I remember thinking, “I refuse to watch this movie.” What a mistake that was. Not long after the movie started, I perked up in my seat, got comfortable, and tried to invest myself in the film. What followed has never left me.
La La Land has a simple premise: two dreamers trying to make it big in the world. They fall in love but must decide whether to pursue their passions or their romance. On the surface is a sun-drenched Hollywood movie that enthralls the audience with thrilling musical numbers and vibrant colors. But, beneath is a powerful story about the painful reality of pursuing childhood dreams. What better setting none other than Hollywood.
The film opens with a musical number that perfectly captures the technicolor world of Hollywood. A world of fun, joyous living that never seems to end. Only until the musical number ends do we snap back to reality, realizing the miserable world that lies behind the screen.
Mia, a struggling actress, is continuously turned down at auditions in favor of the taller, prettier women (as she describes them). She still hopes for her big break, but her spirits dwindle more and more with each failed audition. Sebastian, a struggling pianist, is barely making it. His dream of owning a jazz club and his passion for music motivates him to continue as a musician.
Through a series of random occurrences and dazzling musical numbers, the two fall in love. Their connection is evident from their first interactions. In one of my favorite scenes, the couple visits the Griffith Observatory. They never speak a word. Instead, they dance.
That is something this film does so well. It creates a feeling, not with wordy interactions, but through music, dancing, and visuals. La La Land creates a relationship with the audience through what can only be described as pure movie magic.
As their relationship blossoms, reality settles in. Sebastian pursues a career in a band but has lost sight of his original purpose to revive jazz. Mia’s one-woman show is financially ruining her, and after barely anyone shows up to her performance, she realizes she needs to grow up.
They drift apart and go their separate ways. Luckily, Mia was given the opportunity to audition for a lead role in a new movie because of her one-woman show.
At this point, what follows are ten minutes of perfection. The last ten minutes of the film are pure movie magic. All of the events culminate into one spectacular display of what could have been. These ten minutes are full of striking visuals, dynamic orchestral displays, and pure joy, a truly unforgettable experience.
All in all, La La Land will forever be one of the most imaginative and entertaining films Hollywood has ever produced. I give it a 10/10.