La La Land: A Musical For Everyone


By Nicole Zelazko

Set in the city of hopes and dreams, heartbreak and disappointment, we find ourselves in Los Angeles, Southern California, in the midst of still traffic. Damien Chazelle’s La La Land gives us an opportunity to escape to the land of the sun, while teaching us to chase after our dreams.

We meet Mia (Emma Stone), a struggling actress with nothing more than a heart full of passion and a childhood dream, covered by her oh-so-great barista job. The beautiful Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) has the same passion, though his lies in New Orleans born jazz music, chasing his distant dream of opening his own jazz club. Through doubt and romance, this passionate couple learns how chase their dreams, while simultaneously struggling to keep their feet on the ground.

Meeting in the “winter” cold of 98 degrees, Mia and Sebastian are caught in the stereotypical LA traffic jam, being portrayed through aggravated drivers jam packed in colorful cars and consumed in holiday tunes. Unexpectedly, sets of folks run out onto the streets. A choreographed dance, paired with beautiful singing and dancing, floods the screen. The variety of suits and dresses leave you drowning in the various color schemes, not knowing what to keep your focus on. The first five minutes of this movie convinced me that I would probably hate it — another series of catchy, overplayed tunes, matched with perfectly-on-time, ridiculous dancing? No thank you.

Mia and Sebastian exchange a moment of road rage, and move on with their lives. Later running in at a bar, then a party, it seems as if these two are simply on two paths that are bound to converge. Though he repeats that she’s simply “not his type,” the two have an indescribable chemistry, whether they like it or not. Without even asking for her number, the audience is left guessing….will he see her again? Why didn’t he kiss her? A quick shift in plot leaves us hopeful, once Sebastian shows up at Mia’s workplace.

It is only uphill from here. Date after date, kiss after kiss, the couple simply falls madly in love with each other. Dates ranging from jazz clubs to the theatre, from movie sets to parking lots, the audience becomes addicted to this relationship. The two push each other to never give up on their initial dreams. With this major support, the pair begins to find themselves individually, while growing as a whole.

The cheesy story line may not be the most appealing aspect of the movie to all. This film does seem to follow the stereotypical “Hollywood” plot line: two struggling dreamers find comfort in each others arms, while also learning how to follow their own passions. Though this may be true, this movie is so much more.

As the story unfolds, you find yourself grasping the characters so tight, each being relatable in some sense. You fall in love with the idea of finding something worth fighting for, despite the doomed love of these two Hollywood dreamers. This is so much more than a typical romance; it’s a story worth being heard, and one that will change how you view success and sacrifice in the midst of despair.

Hearing that this is a musical may shut down the idea of seeing this movie for many. I couldn’t imagine ever enjoying a movie that started off this corny, but as it went on, it all started to piece together. Themes started to add up, and every scene created a new inference in my head. Looking around the theatre, there was not a single dull face at any time of any scene. Every small detail was deserving of a reaction, and by the end of the movie, you feel as if you need to change your whole thought process. This is the perfect musical for people who don’t even like musicals.

Once the ending of the movie rolled around, I found myself grasping onto the beginning of it. Not realizing how captivating the movie really is during it, you will find yourself not wanting it to end. You begin to be flooded with emotion, all of the feelings and realizations coming at once. By the end of the film, you find yourself feeling every emotion alongside the actors. The last 15 minutes of the movie were almost impossible to watch, knowing as every second went by, it was a second closer to the end of this unbelievably genuine story.

When looking up “La-La Land,” you’ll come across one of two definitions: “a nickname for Los Angeles or Hollywood, especially with regard to the lifestyle and attitudes of those living there or associated with it,” or “the mental state of someone who is not aware of what is really happening.” This double meaning is beyond clever, since there is no way a movie this genius could only be named after its setting.

A teacher may be one to yell at you to get out of “La La Land” during class, but what if this zone-out was more than just a 10 minute thing? Mia and Sebastian are dreamers, which is the hypothetical grown-up life one tries to live by, but the world can kick us down sometimes. Maybe if we treated life as if it was La La Land and not just a quick escape route from reality, we can be a step closer to being the Mia or Sebastian’s of the world.

If you feel as if you’ve been lacking something in your heart recently, this is the movie to see. Its inspiration leaves you with a sense of wanting to follow after your desires. There is no way to put into words the justice this movie deserves, but its sets of awards and nominations may be a start. You may be paralyzed in the theatre for a good 15 minutes after the credentials pop up, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is a movie you do not want to miss out on.