Reading the script, then the scene-by-scene breakdown, I can’t help but be struck — again — the simplicity of the story. Boy and Girl find each other. Fall in love. Split up. Both of their careers go on the rise. And then that parallel life-fantasy.
It reminds me what I felt when I walked out of the theater watching the movie the first time: I loved the movie. And in part I did because it feels like a post-modern musical. The dancing doesn’t have a polished sheen. The singing is wonderful, but in part because it’s raw. In other words, there’s a real life feel infused and interweaving between the fantasy sequences. This extends to the ending which is bittersweet, to be sure, but feels just right. This is a musical for our time, a love letter to musicals from the past, flowing with romance befitting that era, but grounded in the very real challenges of being a modern couple: balancing love and dueling careers.
Maybe love is NOT all there is. Maybe love IS for a time, it’s temporal. Very real and vibrant and wondrous in the moment, but real life, even with a fantastical aura of successful acting careers and thriving jazz clubs, has an influence on romance making it more ephemeral, less permanent.
And that’s another thing I loved about the movie: It fits L.A. to a tee. Someone once said without water, Los Angeles is nothing but a desert. I think one can say the same thing about dreams, hopes, creative aspirations. Mia and Sebastian are quite literally ‘living the dream’, not in the way we typically mean that, but striving to make their dreams come true. They are fueled in large part by their creative passion and, for a time, their shared romantic passion. Re the former, I don’t know ANYONE attempting to work in the entertainment business — the business of TELLING STORIES — who isn’t ‘living the dream’, no matter what their economic station in life is. Those dreams are the fuel which drives the entire entertainment industry, yet such a struggle to sustain.
We see that in the lives of Mia and Sebastian, as they go about ‘living the dream’, which for a while includes their romantic dreams. But L.A. can be a fickle mistress on all dreaming fronts…
As far as I’m concerned, La La Land nails that. The invitation. The inspiration. The perspiration.
And in the end, the salutation.