Film Review: ‘La La Land’ And The Magic Of Unrequited Love

Posted by Shivansh Mishra in Culture-Vulture
December 14, 2016

Love, as most people would agree, is an emotion spurred by fortuity, driven by desire and strengthened by longing. However, there are only two ways the journey of love can end. Either at a crossroads which leads two people down an unknown path together or propels them on different journeys altogether. Blessed are those that find the former for there’s a side to love that tugs at your soul if you go down the latter. It doesn’t leave you, follows you like an iota of your shadow and often drives you towards the realisation of your better self. This last facet is what many a cinematic journeys have tried to explore over years. “La La Land” tries to do the same. It, however, succeeds on levels where others have faltered.

Mia and Sebastian’s meetings in the land of dreams, Los Angeles are owed completely to serendipity. They’re chasing their dreams; she constantly auditioning for acting roles and he being a pianist, pining to own a jazz club of his own; trapped by both their circumstances or by sheer deficiency of luck, in equal measure.

However, when fate intervenes, they get together and set down the path of discovering themselves through the eyes of the other.

That the movie is a musical, works tremendously in its favour as the melodious interludes enhance the narrative. The journey that the lead pair undertakes together is buoyed by the music which is the essence of their relationship. The accompanying visuals elevate the proceedings to a surreal level. Damien Chazelle, the director who broke out in a big way with his stupendous feature ‘Whiplash’, dedicated the movie to old-school Hollywood fare and the relationship of Mia and Sebastian is steeped in old-world charm reminiscent of yore. The twist, in the modern setting of the story, works wonderfully when you accept that whatever is happening could only possibly happen in cinema. There is no conscious effort to project believability. This is where the heart of the movie lies.

Emma Stone won the prize for Best Actress at the Venice Film Festival, where the film premiered, and this is, by far her best work deserving of all the laurels and accolades. Ryan Gosling gives the understated performance of the year as he respectfully surrenders to the powerhouse that is Stone. The pair that first featured in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” has an effortless chemistry that is the driving force of the feature.

The movie does not have a perfect ending. It recaps the moments of Mia and Sebastian’s lives together through a perfect kaleidoscope of images. It is sad but they have contented smiles for the delineation of their dreams and hopes for each other is fulfilled. It might break your heart, but when you think about it once you have left the cinema, you know through your ache that there could not be a better end to the story.

Rating: 5/5