Friday, January 20, 2017

Movie Review: La La Land

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This is the dream! It's conflict and it's compromise, and it's very, very exciting!

Rating: 8/10 Stars
Genre: Musical
No warnings (no violence or sex/nudity. Only mild language).

I should probably state this from the beginning… I’m not the biggest fan of musicals.

I know, I know. So many people love them, but I have always found it a bit awkward when people suddenly burst into song out of nowhere. Like, are you sure this is what you want to do right now?
Sometimes the situation doesn’t call for choreographed dance and heart-felt singing, it just doesn’t.

So I was a bit reluctant to watch La La Land, regardless of the praise it was receiving because it might not be my thing. Luckily, I was wrong! Though I can’t say I found it to be so praise-worthy (I sound like an asshole, but bear with me) I still enjoyed it.

This movie is about dreams, about passions and compromises and heartbreak and love. La La Land follows Mia and Sebastian, two struggling artist who come together and help each other in finding their path and achieving their dreams. Mia’s dream is to be a Hollywood star while Sebastian’s is to open a successful Jazz club.

The beginning could be a bit slow. I liked how the couple didn’t quite like each other at first, two passionate hearts coming head to head could be daunting, but the more they knew one another the more they began to fall for each other. They were both, after all, dreamers.

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Nevertheless, despite all the cuteness of the couple, I felt that the film really began to find itself when the two of them came off the high of the honey moon stage and found themselves in real life.
I have to admit that I enjoyed this moment a lot more than the development of their romance. Sure, they were cute, but that first part lacked the depth that the second one had. That’s when things began to get real and we get to see how love strives to survive in moments of hardships.

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-On the Music:
Despite it being a musical, there weren’t a lot of memorable numbers on it. My personal favorites were “Another day of Sun” and “Someone in the Crowd” but that was pretty much it, the rest become a bit of a blur, and everybody’s favorite “City of Stars” was perhaps my least favorite, not because it was bad, but because I found the others more fitting to the theme of the movie.

-The Ending:

Warning! This part contains spoilers for the movie, if you don’t want to know them better stop reading.

This seemed to be perhaps the most controversial aspect of La La Land, diving audiences. Some people loved it, others hated it. I, for one, thought it was the best part of the movie.

La La Land is, after all, the city where dreams come true. This story was about dreamers and their passions, so I’m happy the movie stuck to that.

After Mia gets called on for an audition, Sebastian tells her she’s going to get the role and when she does she needs to pour her heart and soul into it because it’s her dream. The job would take her to Paris for months, and keep them apart for longer, but he claims it’s alright; they’ll meet somewhere along the way.

The scene cuts to a five year flas-forward where we see Mia having succeeded in her dream of becoming a star, going to the café she used to work and receiving the same treatment we saw a famous actress receive there when Mia was just another barista.

BUT to the audience there’s a catch, for we see how Mia gets to her lavish home and kisses her husband… who is not Sebastian. That’s when we see Mia is happily married and with a cute daughter. Later on she goes out with her husband to a party, but after getting stuck in traffic they decide to go somewhere else to have dinner and still make a night out of it.

When returning to their car, her husband sees a club and they decide to go inside, only for Mia to pause when she sees the sign she designed for Sebastian hanging on the wall. Realizing where they were, Mia sits with her drink and searches the place for Sebastian, finding him on stage as the song playing ends. After introducing the performers to the crowd he catches Mia sitting there and stops in his tracks, saying a meek “welcome to Seb’s” while smiling a little.
As Sebastian begins to play the piano, we see an alternate life in which the two of them end up together. Although sweet, one can’t help but notice how, that way, their dreams don’t quite come true. Mia ends up as an actress with moderate success, and Sebastian doesn’t have the club that he owns in real life.
When the vision ends we see Mia leaving the cub with her husband but stopping to send one last glance towards Sebastian. Their eyes meet and they share a brief, bittersweet smile before parting ways and the movie ends.

Despite the leads not ending up together, this ending pays true homage to the movie’s ideals: follow your dreams.

The movie states how these two characters had dreams of their own that, in the end, couldn’t have been able to accomplish if they had stayed together simply due to life taking them down different paths.

This is not a case of putting your career before love, but rather following your passion and finding happiness and how sometimes that means having to leave a few things behind. Truth is, Mia and Sebastian were both passionate dreamers who would have been unhappy had their dreams not come intro fruition. It’s an interesting study in relationships and ambitions, but also on how sometimes there are things you need to let go off.

The ending doesn’t mean that the two of them don’t care about each other, on the contrary they both find their situations rather bittersweet too and it is clear that they still have feelings for each other, but life has simply taken them in different directions though it’s clear that they’ll always care for one another in their own way.

Have you seen La La Land? What did you think?

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