If you don’t get why people keep talking about how great La La Land is, go and see it. If you have seen it, and you still don’t get it, keep reading this and I’ll do my best to explain it to you. Grab a snack, settle down in a chair and let me tell you a little bit about being a daydreamer.
When You’re A Child, There’s A World Of Infinite Possibilities Out There That Could Lead Down All Sorts Of Paths
You could be an astronaut, you could be a zoologist, you could be an actor. As you get older, what seems accessible to your particular skill set narrows itself down. There are people who are comfortable working as accountants or are happy as retail managers, who love (or at least tolerate) their nine-to-five jobs in the same place with familiar faces and are pleased to carry on with that for a prolonged amount of time.
Then there are those who also have their skill set narrowed down but find themselves drawn to another realm of careers in the creative arts. These people never seemed to lose that child-like fantasy of being able to travel to bizarre places or invent new ways of doing things. I’m not saying that those who decided not to go down this career path don’t have this characteristic (that would be condescending of me), but there are the creative types who never felt like doing a job with regular, everyday hours would fit them.
In the context of La La Land, these people are Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). They do the jobs they have to do to make ends meet (see: working in a coffee shop, grumpily playing the same old Christmas songs on a piano in a restaurant), but their desire to be elsewhere and pursuing their aspirations never dies. Lost job after lost job, failed audition after failed audition, they keep pushing to reach the point where they wish to be. When you see it played out in front of you, it seems completely ridiculous, but as Mia’s actress aunt tells her, “a bit of madness is key.”
The Problem With A Romantic Madness Is That It Clashes So Greatly With Reality
Because while you have all those hopes and dreams and an overwhelming want to be a world-renowned actress or well-respected jazz musician, it’s impossible to dedicate yourself to that and then maintain a high standard of living, such as remembering to pay bills on time or working your audition schedule around your day job. Worst of all, there’s trying to look after your love life while nursing the dream you’ve had since childhood. It just reminds you of why none of your primary school relationships ever worked out.
So your romantic relationships and your relationship with your career don’t harmonise with one another. You meet someone who has same kind of drive as you do, the same passion for a certain creative area, and you’re not sure if you’re in love with them or perhaps another version of yourself see in them (Is this narcissistic? Possibly, but that’s an article for another day). As this blossoms — like Mia and Sebastian blossom together in La La Land — you find yourselves bouncing ideas off one another. You grow as both people and artists, and, like we see in the film, the seasons in your creative lives transition from spring to summer so brilliantly it doesn’t feel like autumn with ever come along.
However, Autumn Does Come Along, And That’s Reality Knocking On The Door
It’s come to tell you that while you admire this person so much, having two ambitious people in the (relatively) early stages of their careers in the same relationship together is too much. You want to see each other, but the anti-social working hours prevent that from happening much. You want the best for you partner, but your critique on their latest work is miscommunicated and you end up insulting them instead. When all of this happens, Mia and Sebastian realize that they can no longer grow together. In order to follow their dreams their life together has to be put on hold, permanently.
Here’s where we get to the bit that made me cry — although Mia and Sebastian’s relationship was never going to work, their time together wasn’t meaningless. In fact, without each other, they might not have reached their goals at the end of the film. It was Sebastian that told Mia she had to go to that audition when she had given up, and it ended up being the breakthrough for her career. It was Mia that reminded Sebastian of what music he really loved, encouraging him to stay true to his original fantasy of opening a jazz club.
The Length Of Mia And Sebastian’s Romance Didn’t Measure Its Value To Their Lives
We’re told a lot about how finding “the one” will mean that they’re the person that stays in your life regardless of what happens; that you’ll get married and have children, grow old together, die together and everything is beautiful, romantic and passionate all at the same time. What if there’s more than one “one”?
With this new modern age has come a questioning of what romantic love really is and what it really means — what it signifies, how long it will last and what defines its value. In La La Land, we’re shown the two opposing perspectives side by side. At the end, we have the little montage of the traditional fantasy of romance, of Mia and Sebastian congratulating each other on their successes and maintaining a healthy relationship, gradually getting married and having children. Then we’re faced with the reality: Mia and Sebastian find they can’t work around each other’s schedules anymore, they grow angry, they break up, they move on.
The Former Is Ideal, But The Latter Doesn’t Sound So Bad
Being a daydreamer comes with the difficulty of having a deep-set determination to achieve what you’ve admired for a very long time. As you’re faced with the truth that it’s a long road full of break downs and few rest stops, there’s always the temptation to just call an end to the journey and make do with what you’ve got — happy with the fact that you tried your best to succeed.
But then (if you’re really lucky) when you’re broken down, you get a little bit of a push from someone else on the same journey as you. They might not stick around for long, but they did something, and that something was just enough to keep you going for just enough longer to reach your destination.
What La La Land does is remind us that our dreams are really quite ludicrous, but that’s the beauty of them. So, here’s to the fools who dream; here’s to the mess we make.