“La La Land”: A Cinematic Masterpiece About Love, Ambition, and Following Your Dreams


Olivia Galbraith

While the character development and cinematography is exceptional, what makes this movie sing is the music and instrumentals. They’re mesmerizing and beautiful.

Dakota Canzano, Editor

The following article contains spoilers from the movie “La La Land.”

Cotton-candy painted skies and lamp posts that illuminate the sidewalks at midnight set the scene of the shimmering city of Los Angeles where two strangers seek love and try to pursue their long-awaited dreams.

Damien Chazelle’s 2016 film “La La Land” is the best movie I have ever seen.

The vibrant colors in every scene, the well-curated cast, the music, the storyline, and the cinematography had my eyes glued to the screen from start to finish.

Every scene has purpose and meaning.

“La La Land” focuses on Sebastian, a pianist with dreams of opening his own jazz club, and Mia, an aspiring actress waiting for her casting call and spot in a screenplay.

With Emma Stone playing the role of Mia and Ryan Gosling playing Sebastian, I could not imagine a better cast.

Their authentic performances bring the movie to life. Some scenes connect to the actors’ past experiences about auditioning, and others involve improvisation, leaving such genuine and raw emotion for the audience to enjoy.

Stone and Gosling take turns stealing scenes as the viewer joins them on a journey to pursue their dreams. Their characters both have goals. They both have dreams. These aspirations become the glue of the film as they connect over a shared ambition.

“La La Land” takes place in “The City of Angels” — also known as present-day Los Angeles — but has a nostalgic atmosphere, referencing periods throughout the city’s history during the ‘40s and ‘50s.

Watching this movie is a complex experience, as I am rooting for the characters to achieve their individual goals but also realizing that their individual successes will likely result in their separation.

In one of my favorite scenes, Mia finally finds herself after Sebastian pushes her out of her comfort zone. He encourages her to audition for a critical role and is waiting outside the audition room with hope in his heart. Throughout the film, she does the same for Sebastian, challenging him to be true to his passion for traditional jazz.

During the audition, Mia tells the story of her aunt, who used to live in Paris and chased her own dreams. Then, she launches into a beautiful rendition of “Audition (The Fools Who Dream).”

This is one of the many songs in “La La Land” that develop the complex characters and theme of following one’s dreams.

Throughout the film, Mia is grasping the idea that achieving your dreams takes risk and ambition but comes with a reward.

But at times, longing for a reward can create a mess, forcing sacrifices to be made and relationships to be left behind. For example, the coffee shop where Mia works is a place that’s close to being left behind, as she jumps at her new goal of being the star of a movie. She wants to be a part of the movie sets, not on the outside looking in.

While the character development and cinematography is exceptional, what makes this movie sing is the music and instrumentals. They’re mesmerizing and beautiful.

In every scene, the music contributes to the variety of emotions portrayed by Mia and Sebastian. Whether they are just falling in love or deciding where they are meant to end up, it syncs perfectly.

The songs and the choreography seamlessly transition from scene to scene, too. My favorite instrumental from the film is “Mia and Sebastian’s Theme.” We first hear this song as Mia approaches a restaurant while Sebastian is improvising and playing one of his original pieces instead of playing a mundane Christmas tune.

Mia is mesmerized by it. The restaurant manager is not.

Sebastian teaches Mia the importance of music, noting that most people hardly notice the music in the background. He underscores the significance of jazz in particular and why it’s important to pay attention to it.

The ending of the film is both beautiful and heartbreaking. It is set five years into the future and Mia and Sebastian have parted. We see Mia as a successful actress as she wanders into a jazz club with her husband, takes a seat, and immediately recognizes that she’s sitting in the club that Sebastian always dreamed of owning called “Seb’s,” which was inspired by Mia.

I’ve watched this movie countless times. It never gets old, and even though I know how it ends, I find myself continually rooting for Mia and Sebastian to end up together.

There is chemistry, connection, and genuine love between them. They encouraged each other to chase the new role in a movie and to open a jazz club. It makes me believe they were soulmates.

This movie demonstrates the dilemma people face in pursuing their dreams while giving up what they love and making sacrifices. Achieving your dreams sometimes comes at a price. It hurts to see the characters fall in love, then split off into the world to perhaps never see each other again.

The last few minutes of the film “La La Land” are the most powerful and heart-wrenching. As Mia leaves “Seb’s” jazz club, the former couple exchanges a knowing look. He nods. She smiles. Life goes on, knowing they’re happy for each other. And while I’m often in tears, I’m just happy I got to see it all.

You can watch “La La Land” on Hulu, Amazon Prime, or On Demand.