“Here’s to the ones who dream, crazy as they may seem. Here’s to the hearts that break, here’s to the mess we make.”
As Emma Stone belts out the final verses of La La Land‘s penultimate song, Audition (The Ones Who Dream), it’s difficult not to internalise them and ponder what they mean individually to each of us.
Simple words constructed in such an easy sentence, yes, but never have truer words been spoken – or, rather, sung – about the frailties of human endeavour to overcome obstacles in life and achieve greatness against all the odds.
It is, for this very reason, why La La Land deserves every plaudit and accolade that is bestowed upon it.
A movie full of charm and emotion, music and comedy, joy and sorrow, and that is stirring and heartbreaking, inspiring and moving, at its heart, La La Land is a straightforward story about two lost souls trying to passionately pursue their dreams in one of the most soul crushing cities on the planet.
And, yet, La La Land resonates deeply within cinema goers, who have had the pleasure of sitting down and watching two hours pass by, as they marvel at the abstract nature of a story that echoes within the very core of humanity as a whole.
It is a microcosm of every individual’s dream of becoming someone greater than who they are, thanks in part to realising those dreams and accomplishing goals. Regardless of whether any person still holds onto their dream, has realised or has seen it fall away and felt diminished because of it, it is human nature to have aspired, and continue to aspire, to be more than what we are.
In La La Land, both Mia (Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) portray the trials, tribulations and struggles of people doing their best to realise their lifelong ambition to make it as an actress in Hollywood and successful jazz club owner respectively – a battle that is relatable to each and every viewer, if not by profession then certainly be their desire to become successful at what they’re most passionate about.
The beauty of the film’s narrative, and the manner in which it is so intimately portrayed, meant that it wouldn’t have mattered what dream each character was pursuing – the duo could have been attempting to make it as a lawyer or football player, or a journalist and politician – and that is down to the core values at the heart of the film.
Feelings of hopelessness, dejection, hurt and acceptance of defeat make way for triumph, elation, healing and refusal to surrender before returning again, as if to offer up a glimpse into how our own lives bear resemblance to roller-coasters – the dips and falls to-ing and fro-ing with the highs and crescendos.
That the flick is filled with other striking symbolism, such as its soundtrack detailing each character’s arcs or the changes in colour and tonal feel of Stone’s costumes throughout the film’s length, only add to the simplicity of the human nature on display in La La Land, and help to convoy the overall tone of the motion picture to the audience.
It is also helps to have such a marvellous cast carry out the roles to a tee. Both Stone and Gosling shine as the will-they-won’t-they couple, with each bringing their own gravitas and comedic timing to events, while the supporting cast – including Golden Globe winner J.K. Simmons and singer-songwriter John Legend – help to drive the story forward whether it be through the film’s musical numbers or screen time in other capacities.
And what of the film’s original score itself? If there’s a catchier, more triumphant display of award-winning direction than that concocted by Justin Hurwitz this year, it’ll be some soundtrack to dethrone La La Land‘s ability to worm its way into your head and stay there for days on end. From the bright and breezy opening number of Another Day of Sun – a fine musical number that sets out the scene for the two protagonists with their backstories – to the duet’s performance of City of Stars, La La Land‘s musical score is as good as they come.
Director Damien Chazelle has assembled an all-star cast, sensational musical score and jaw-dropping backdrop to a deserved Oscar-winning contender of a film. Yet, without its humanistic values on display across its 128-minute run-time, La La Land could be viewed by many as just another musical comedy for those of a certain disposition to enjoy.
As it is, the fundamentals that make La La Land such a triumph is its ability to resonate with even the hardest of hearts, and what it means to be a person striving to become their best self.
If that’s not something to reflect on and to be inspired by, especially with the way the world is at the present time, it’s hard to say what is.