From the moment I saw the trailer to La La Land, I knew it was different. I was hooked. Without a single word, the music-only preview captured every ounce of Hollywood glamour, catchy show tunes, captivating dance numbers, knowing glances, and the emotion found at the intersection of love and loss. Surely the film is a nod to the heyday of Hollywood, but in execution, La La Land was a thought-provoking enactment of each of those timeless components in the modern era.
For some time now, the film industry has been fading. Each year competition for the silver screen grows, as various streaming services produce original movies and series. It is rare that I leave a theatre finding equal value in one viewing of a movie for the same price as a month of Netflix. And was it ever worth it!
We find in Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) two dreamers who have plateaued. Mia, a struggling actor waiting for her big break, and Sebastian, a failed jazz artist with lofty goals but no action plan, are each bitter for their lack of individual success. It seems all hope is lost.
As fate would have it, their paths cross again and again—each encounter tenser than the previous. With the catchy number “A Lovely Night” the audience taps their feet along as Sebastian and Mia lament the waste of a perfect evening—given that the company could not appear to be any less interested in one another. Despite their best efforts to resist, their connection is obvious to the viewer, and it seems Mia and Sebastian are last to know they are destined for one another in this city of stars.
To this point, they had floundered. Individually, they struggled to piece together their unique gifts and dreams. As they fall for each other, they become stronger—each encouraging the other to embrace their passions. Ablaze with the support of their love, Mia sets out to produce a one-woman show, while Sebastian joins a mainstream band so he can save money in hopes of opening the jazz joint of his dreams. Their support of one another through these endeavors draws out their individual creativity and their spark of genius. They foster an environment for one another where each can seek the best version of themselves. As time goes on, emotions ride high and struggles arise, Mia and Sebastian are faced with the choice to follow their individual desires, or sacrifice their dreams for the sake of one another.
This challenge strikes a chord in the hearts of many of us who seek to balance individual dreams, goals, careers, and educations. In today’s world, priorities can be a bit murky. Like Mia and Sebastian, we often find ourselves stuck between a multitude of good choices. It is in these times we must remember to turn to God, seeking and discerning His will for our lives.
I hope we all, when faced with tough decision between multiple good routes in life have the strength to open our hearts to God’s “no’s,” or the “not-right-now’s,” or the “I-have-something-better-for-you’s.” Indeed, there does exist more than one path to happiness. Do yourself a favor, as you contemplate the what-if’s in life, at least do it to the tune of the La La Land Soundtrack.
Bye for now, the Summer Montage number is calling my name!
Written by Katherine Brunk.