by Maurice M Hebert
I typically do not write reviews for films. However, I do tend to examine the film and try to sieve out the overall message that it is trying to convey. A good story has a message that is made clear as it unfolds.
The message I understood from the movie “La La Land” cannot be explained without a spoiler alert. If you have not seen the movie and plan on it, please do not read this. If you have seen the movie and enjoyed it as I did, you are welcome to read on. If you have not seen the movie and plan not to ever see the movie, I can only say you are missing one of the seldom seen sparkles from the “city of stars”.
The movie opens with a traffic jam of individuals enamored with the allure of dreams and the promise of love. Our characters Mia a coffee barista aspires to become an actress and Sebastian a jazz pianist dreams of rescuing jazz by opening his own jazz club. The two meet several times inadvertently and slowly fall for each other as they begin to share their dreams and aspirations. The songs, music and dance sequences are enjoyable and give the film a quality of joy and hope not seen often enough. Hope fades however as Mia and Sebastian both decide that it is best for them to pursue their dreams rather than maintain their love. Love is set aside for something better.
Mia achieves her dream after moving to Paris and Sebastian achieves his while Mia is away. Five years later when Mia returns we find that she is traveling with a man and her little daughter. We are left to assume that Mia married this man and had a child.
In the final sequence, Mia sits with her man in the jazz club Sebastian has finally opened and contemplates what could have been as she listens to Sebastian play his homage to love on the piano. We see a dream like review of the history of this couple play out with Mia and Sebastian falling in love and he leaves his dream aside to follow Mia to Paris. Mia achieves her dream and she and Sebastian have a son together and enjoy life and end up sitting together in a jazz club where her man plays a lament on the piano instead of Sebastian.
For most of us, the dream sequence is the apparent happy ending. The dreams and aspirations of both Mia and Sebastian should be fulfilled and it appears that it could only end happily this way by affirming the value and hope that love brings.
I will leave you to answer the following questions. After Mia and Sebastian realize how much they loved each other why did they not get married and continue following their dreams? Are there not examples of dreams fulfilled within the context of love? Why was the love between Mia and Sebastian so unimportant that neither apparently attempted to stay in touch with each other? Was five years too long to wait? Were they truly in love?
The message of this film is important and should be explored. It leaves the viewer questioning which is more important, love or fulfilling your dream. It leaves you wondering if falling in love is compatible with following your dream. Do you have to make that choice? Or can you choose both?
When dreams and personal ambition discount the power of love, much is lost.
“Love is patient and is kind; love does not envy. Love does not brag, is not proud, does not behave itself inappropriately, does not seek its own way, is not irritable, does not keep a record of wrongs; does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Cor 13: 4-7P