“La La Land” – the Painful Price of Dreams – Review

La La Land




“La La Land” is a film which in the vehicle of a Hollywood musical carries a truly dramatic story about a clash between dreams and hard reality. It does not allow the viewer to achieve the desired solace. On the contrary, it confronts him with a difficult question whether he can make a choice between love and life fulfillment.

“La La Land” – why a musical?

After the brilliant “Whiplash”, which oscillated around the independent cinema, Damien Chazelle unexpectedly reached for a musical – a genre which on one hand is considered to be dead, but on the other is considered to be the quintessence of the Hollywood vision of the world. Certainly, “there is a method in this madness”, as the director refers to this convention and communicates with the audience on several levels. Undoubtedly, Chazelle likes to tell the world through the language of music, which he proved in “Whiplash”. The music is a universal message, understandable in every geographic latitude, and additionally juxtaposed with the image, it builds a vision that is universal and at the same time extremely affecting to human emotions.

“La La Land” draws on the most classic model of a musical, i.e. “great love story” from the 40’s and 50’s. There is a clear division of the world into the spheres of women and men. The love of a couple in love goes through many adventures, but it is devoid of the carnal aspect. There are no erotic scenes in “La La Land”. In many aspects, the characters seem outdated, like characters taken out of old romances. Mia (Emma Stone) is a girl who dreams of an acting career, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) wants to win people’s hearts with his jazz compositions. Both are beautiful and innocent dreamers, and their mutual love fuels the pursuit of their desires.

La La Land movie review

The entire world depicted is similarly vibrant with color, full of airy dresses and picturesque urban scenery. Chazelle winks at the viewer, consciously constructing a candy-colored, almost unreal space to show that it is as beautiful as it is false. It is the realm of an idealized Dream Factory, dreams of fame and eternal love. Thus, “La La Land” exploits the musical vision of the world not to resurrect it, but to bring out its cinematic aspects and at the same time confront it with the common knowledge of the rules of life.

“La La Land” – “Though I speak the tongues of men and angels, and love I would not have….”

“La La Land” paradoxically does not situate itself far from the film “Whiplash”. On the contrary, the director develops in it a theme that was only hinted at in the previous work. Let us recall that the protagonist of “Whiplash”, a young drummer, in order to achieve perfection in what he does, sacrifices his entire private life. He also rejects the affection of a girl who is clearly interested in him. The same happens in “La La Land”. The heroes in the professional sphere achieve everything – Sebastian opens his dream jazz club, and Mia becomes a famous film star. This is where the traditional musical ends, but the “happily ever after” scenario does not come true for the characters of “La La Land”. For it turns out that the price for the fulfillment of dreams is extremely high – the characters lose their affection, and their fates will go on separately. When I looked at this sad ending to a Disney story, I thought of Hymn to Love – “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love, I am nothing”. And perhaps this is how the finale of “La La Land” should be read – truly pathetically: love is the highest value, which cannot be renounced for anything.

La La Land film analysis

I think, however, that Chazelle complicates the meaning of his work. Here we see an alternative version of the ending – Mia and Sebastian stay together, instead of obsessively taking every chance to make a career, they care about their feelings. In the finale, they sit huddled in a music club – not as stars, but a couple of ordinary viewers. They do not achieve their goals, they have “only” love. Would they really be happy then? To what extent are we what we dream of and what can we sacrifice for it? Is love really the most important sphere of life? Or maybe the director is comparing human fate to an ancient tragedy (incidentally, he refers to this model, dividing the plot into successive acts) – we always have to choose, but the necessity of choice brings with it the necessity of loss. Perhaps it is impossible to go through life without suffering without inflicting pain? In this ambiguity, and even a certain perversity, lies the greatness of “La La Land”.