On LA LA LAND
April 26, 2017
I walked into La La Land with somewhat high hopes, with heavy recommendations from some friends whose opinions I value.
I thought it could be quite good.
I have watched The Shawshank Redemption over 40 times. It was my favorite movie. It did not earn that status until about the sixth or seventh viewing.
La La Land earned its place as my favorite movie in one showing.
Spoilers will abound.
I went to see this film with Andy on Martin Luther King Jr day.
We thought it could be good.
We came in late. I missed the first few minutes of the film, mostly the opening shot. What I saw of that sequence was excellent.
Andy and I usually talk throughout a film to each other, commenting on what we see. We remained silent, mostly out of respect to our fellow patrons in the most filled theater we have shared (like 25 other people) and partially because of how enamored we were with the film.
I loved the movie. I love it so much. It is on the surface about how two people fall in love and eventually split. To some, its meaning is on how to achieve our dreams we must sacrifice some of what we love to get what we truly desire.
That is not what it means to me. I by no means am calling my interpretation of the movie unique.
The reason this movie is my favorite is directly connected to what I think it means.
I love this movie so much because it made me care about two people I have never met, a couple that only exists on the silver screen. Shawshank did that after watching it many times. La La Land did that within 15 minutes.
For the only time in my life, I was concerned with what happened to these fictional people. I desperately wanted to know how their lives turned out. These characters who love each other so much, I needed to find out what they did and why.
I was drawn into this film with immersion beyond belief. I stopped seeing them as Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and instead watched the lives of Seb and Mia unfold before me.
This film is excellent because it made me feel. Actual events in my life usually don’t do that.
The ending sequence of “what could have been” is beautiful, and possibly my favorite part. This montage made the meaning of the film clear to me.
It shows the world that Mia and Sebastian could have constructed if they immediately fell in love.
It ends with the dream couple going to the club in which the real duo find themselves, five years after their fling.
What this movie alludes love to be is the same thing Strange Desire alludes to it being.
Mia and Seb’s romance does end.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t love each other anymore.
The love they share goes beyond time and into outer space. They build a reality a la Inception where they live out their fantasies. But that isn’t the real world. Relationships do end.
People split up. It’s true. But what happens after shows almost as much or even more than what they did together.
To love is to be vulnerable. The people we love in our lives shape the way we think, feel, and act. How they affect us when we aren’t with them shows how truly deeply we are connected to them.
Seb opens his jazz club. He is on his own, an auteur of architecture.
But he builds it not to the vision he had for so many years, but to the one that he and Mia developed together.
He loved her so much that even when she wasn’t with him, he still acted like she was.
This is what makes the world they truly are in better than the one they dreamed up.
Because this is a real world with tangible results in which their love goes beyond the two of them being together.
Where he altered the dream he had for so long to be the way she wanted it to be.
Where he sees her and thinks of what he should have done so long ago.
But he knows he can’t go back, and he probably wouldn’t even if he could.
Because if he did, he could never truly appreciate the dream he had of a life with her.
Because that was a dream, where it didn’t really matter.
Because that imaginary lifetime with her went perfectly.
Because it was just that, imaginary.
Because everything going right only happens in our dreams.
Because all the dreaming in the world means nothing compared to the reality we help create.
Because the reality she helped create for him was the truly best one he could have, better than their dreaming at the end of the film.
Because she affected him in a way which manifested years later.
Because the ripples from pebbles ended up being a sizable wave when it crashed to the shore.
Because she wasn’t his anymore.
Because him building Seb’s without her was more magnificent and devoted than building it with her.
Because she wasn’t there to tell him what to do, and he did it anyway.
Because he did it not to impress her, but because she made him be a different person than he started as.
Because she was that important to him, that he burned his dreams away to stand in the broken shadows of their reckless love.
Because he loved her so, and she loved him so.
And I love this movie so.
Because it made me love people that I know will never exist in a way I never have before.
Because it shows how love can go beyond being with someone to letting them pull your life in a different direction.
Because you feel an undying connection to them and the way they think and feel.
Because they matter to you that much.
And this film matters to me, that much.