Life In An Instant
Damian Chazelle’s La La Land perfectly sums up the old adage life happens in the blink of an eye. The highly rated musical number is not only ear pleasing but keeps you sucked in till the end, and the end is one you’ll want to stick around for. Chazelle’s work on this movie is brilliant he makes it funny, moving, and inspiring at the same time. The brilliance of this movie is immediately realized in the opening scene as a seemingly normal traffic jam on the 101 turns into an upbeat musical number complete with a well-choreographed dancing, perfect harmonizations, frequent lead vocal changes, and a band that just happens to be hitching a ride in the back of a box truck. However, no matter how whimsical or far-fetched the scene seems to be it definitely makes its message known, this is Hollywood anything can happen. This scene also happens to be where we meet our two main characters Mia, played by Emma Stone, and Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling. The meeting is brief and hints at no chemistry between the two, but likeA everything else in the movie it all matters in the end. Chazelle is brilliant in the way he structures the characters, instead of having them slowly piece together a backstory we are treated to rotating perspectives where we get to see the story from both main characters points of view, starting with Mia. Mia, we find out, is a down on her luck wannabe actress trying to make her way in Tinseltown. Sebastian, as it is later revealed, is an aspiring jazz musician, who one day hopes to own his own jazz club, struggling to breakthrough into the mainstream music world.
Emma Stone (Superbad and Easy A) does an absolutely magnificent three-sixty-degree flip. She goes from the girl that has forever played the quirky seductress to a beautifully talented actress that has risen from the ashes of her former self. Stone portrays Mia with such conviction that she has the audience believing she’s still an undiscovered talent not a world-famous, award-winning actress. Ryan Gosling (The Notebook and Half Nelson) is quite possibly equally as brilliant as he plays the, at first extremely rude, but then quite sweet Sebastian. Gosling uses much of that killer charm (that made him famous for his role in The Notebook) to sweep the audience off their feet just as he does with Stone’s character Mia. The pure ridiculousness of the frequent “chance encounters” between Mia and Sebastian is what gets you intrigued, but then they start to sing and the chemistry between them is immediately palpable. Then, Mia says she hates jazz. Its little quips like this that make this movie humorous, as a seemingly unimportant expression of ones’ preferences becomes one of the focal point sub-plots of the movie. Chazelle also likes to slip in some low-blows to the Hollywood types with some of the jokes in the movie. Take for instance the time that when Mia asks Sebastian to get her keys at a party and tells Sebastian that it’s the Prius and the camera focuses on a bowl full of Prius keys.
As far as meta-movies go not many have done it better, as La La Land dives into what it is like to be a struggling entertainer in Hollywood and instead of focusing on a happily ever after ending it focuses on the sacrifices that people end up having to make sometimes in order to become successful in one of the most ruthless and corrupt industries in the world. Mia’s struggle is only furthered as she must choose between furthering her career and Sebastian. The movie goes through soft, quiet stretch as Mia and Sebastian begin to focus on their respective careers and begin to grow apart, and then all-of-a-sudden the movie jumps into the future and we learn that Mia has made it as an actress and that she is now world famous. Now, for a movie that has been anything other than vanilla up to this point a happily ever after would seem unfit, and Chazelle does not disappoint as the ending is what truly makes this movie so special. As Mia is shown for the first time in since the movie jumped ahead in time we see that she now has a child, next we see her husband and find out its not Sebastian. Mia and her husband go out for dinner and we are left wondering what happened to Sebastian. That question is quickly answered as Mia and her husband go to an upscale jazz club, wouldn’t you know it Sebastian is playing the piano and as he looks out into the crowd he sees Mia. The story then switches to Sebastian’s perspective and we see him make eye contact with Mia and begin playing the song that has been the theme throughout the entire movie. The film ends the credits role and the viewers are left sitting their respective seats wondering what the heck just happened. Its brilliant you never see it coming and it leaves you thinking.
Overall this movie deserves every award it got, and maybe even a few more, it is an artistic masterpiece and arguably one of the best movies of this generation. As far as musicals go it’s the best since Grease and as far as meta-movies go its right up there with Birdman. I give it an 8.7/10