Why La La Land is such a huge success
After seeing that La La Land had 13 Oscar nominations I knew it was something I had to watch. After all, 13? Really? Was it as good as Titanic?
So I saw it. When the movie ended I had mixed feelings; the movie-lover side of me believed it was not worthy of 13 nominations (barely 2 for photography and Stones’s performance). But something inside of me loved it. I did not know what it was but it almost gave me rush of adrenaline thinking of the possibilities that lie in the world. And that’s when I got it…
La La Land is a movie made for Millennials.
Inside my generations limbic system lies a deep sense of lack of purpose and identity; they are accompanied by a third and very powerful feeling: nostalgia. I really can’t explain it or understand why it is. We want to be in “the good ol’ days”. And La La Land does exactly that. It takes us to the “good ol’ days” without even having to be there (just like the two main characters do). There is even a part when Gosling asks Stone about her play and she tells him that it “gives her too much nostalgia” which is basically the writer telling us what the movie is about.
The movie is in a constant struggle between it’s true identity that lies 1930’s Los Angles and the present day that surrounds it. Stone and Gosling dress, talk and dance like if they were in another epoch. Nevertheless, they sometimes suddenly get struck by the present day. Fifteen minutes into the film, Stone takes out her cellphone; when she does it you kind of get a shock like if you were not expecting her to have a phone, and then you remember “oh, this is supposed to be like present-day”. The reason is that the movie makes it hard to believe that it is situated in a present-day Los Angeles. This is epitomized in the scene where Stone is with her boyfriend in a restaurant, she hears the piano playing in the back only to look up and realize that it is a speaker playing the song. She looks at it with a sense of disappointment. This is the moment when reality crashes with the fantasy of the past. She suddenly realizes that she is back in the real world , and she also realizes that she does not want to be a part of it. She then runs away to meet Gosling in a old theatre. She rushes back to the good old days. The same way we want to be able to run away from our responsibilities. (News Flash: To see an old movie, which actually breaks down in the middle due to to the projector).
But why would we love it after all this? The same reason American Apparel is one of the biggest brands in America and the same reason vinyl records are so popular. We do not want to live in this cruel messed up society (which we made) and see ourselves disappointed down the same way Stone is disappointed when she sees the speaker. We don’t want that, so as she does, we escape. Nevertheless, in our case, we cannot escape. But what do we want? I think we want to relax and live in the days when life was easier, the sun was hotter, everyone got along and drove pink and sky-blue cars. The movie is so successful because we identify ourselves with the movie, it resonates with what we want. Which is to be happy and not have to cope with the extreme anxiety which we live with. It is the same reason we do not care that Gosling and Stone are such terrible dancers and singers. Because that could be us right there, and we do not sing or dance like professionals, just like the two main characters. And that also resonates with us. If they were professional dancers and singers we would not feel identified with how them or how they feel misunderstood and alone. We want to be them and be able to go back (or at least pretend) to the 1930’s.
But my generation should be careful of what it wishes for. The 1930’s are far from what the good old days look like. Although, it would be wrong to blame my generation for wanting to escape. We were brought up in a world that made us too self-conscious, too aware of how we look and how we should look. This is the same reason everyone loves Snapchat and no one uses Twitter, but I’ll leave that topic for some other day.