Its a musical, it's a romance, it's a comedy, and it's a masterpiece: it's La La Land! An original idea by screenplay-writer and director #DamienChazelle, this film has awed audiences around the globe and has captured the critics' attention. Winning 37 awards in total, #LaLaLand has broken records all over the film scene. Especially the record for most #GoldenGlobes won by a film.
But what makes it so great? The colors? The music? The acting? The sets? All of these contribute to creating such a jewel, but one theme that has not been appreciated enough about this film is the power of relationships, despite how long or short-lived they may be.
Something beautiful about dreamers is that they are never totally alone. In La La Land, protagonist Mia Dolan is seen living with three other girls in Los Angeles. Though the story does not provide much about her roommates, based off the decor of their apartment and their conversations, it is very evident that they, too, are aspiring actresses.
This is a very important relationship for Mia because these ladies are a source of inspiration and a drive for her to pursue her career. Clearly seen above in the musical number "Someone in the Crowd," Mia's roommates push her to go to the party despite her reluctancy. As a wannabe-actress in Hollywood, it's very important to "get yourself out there" and meet new people.
Though their relationship may have been short, they've definitely engraved the message in her head: Someone in the crowd may be the one you need to know, the one to lift you off the ground. Nonetheless, Mia's roommates are a heavy beacon of inspiration for her.
The Original Dreamer
Every dream starts somewhere. Everyone has inspiration from something, or someone. In Mia's case, it is with her aunt, who was an actress that once lived in Paris. During conversations with Sebastian, Mia mentions her aunt, even singing a song about her during her audition that would bring her to stardom. It's even seen here during a teaser trailer of La La Land:
Many of us have dreams that are inspired by those we adore and love so dearly. It can be family members, it can be celebrities — all that matters is that they inspire you to pursue your dream. Mia mentions in the film that her aunt was the one who inspired her to be an actress, telling her stories and taking her to the library across the street to watch old films. Though her aunt passed, Mia remembers the burning flame that she was. This has resulted in a life-long impact beginning from her childhood.
Not My Kind Of Job
A theme that reoccurs through the film is staying true to one's original goal. Sebastian Wilder, the other protagonist, reveals his true character when he goes to play piano in the restaurant he works at. Boring himself out with Christmas tunes, his real talent escapes as he lets himself go free on the keys.
The important relationship here is between Sebastian and his boss, as his boss fires him for freestyling and not keeping to the setlist. Though this certainly did not come to mind for Sebastian during the time, he really does need to thank his boss for firing him. Without that, he would have been stuck at his boring job. Some relationships end badly, no matter how well established they are. Most times, really good or even ironic outcomes arise from the worst situations.
Barista At Warner Bros
Similar to Sebastian's situation, Mia maintains a similar relationship with her boss at work. Though she doesn't get fired like Sebastian, Mia gains a humble experience from working as a barista. Of course, it is a sort of dream job for her as well, since she works in the coffee shop at Warner Bros. Studios.
Mia's boss is strict but does take a slight consideration to Mia's aspiring job. By working there at Warner Bros., Mia has been able to witness the real bustle of the film industry just outside the shop window. During the beginning of the film, we see Mia gawk at an actress (whose face we do not see) that enters the coffee shop and gets lattes on the house. Ironically, at the end of the movie (in the same coffee shop) Mia becomes a popular actress who is gawked at, though she insists on paying for the coffee she buys regardless of the free offer. Thanks to her experience and her temporary relationship with her boss, she remains humble after quitting that job.
Quitting The Band
The main reason as to why Sebastian joined the band with Keith was to gain financial stability, most likely just to please Mia and reassure himself. This reverts back to the reoccurring theme of sticking true to one's ambitions, as Mia asks Sebastian if the band is really what he wants to do. If it is, he'd be hypocritical — he wants to save classic jazz, not create something new with it. This leads on to his temporary relationship with "The Messengers," soon realizing he wasn't being true in the city of stars.
Everyone has to go through certain situations to find out what they really are looking for in life. In Sebastian's case, he realized that he didn't have to be so desperate and waste away part of his life to something he wasn't passionate about. The brief relationship with Keith and the band was enough for him to realize that "No, this is not what I'm here for." This inspires him to pursue his ambition, with the occasional inspiration from Mia.
The Bogart To Your Bergman
Undeniably one of the most important relationships in the film is the romance between Mia and Sebastian, two dreamers who lift one another up and who fell in love in the city of stars.
There are so many features to their relationship that are significant — they appreciate one another, are good friends, listen to one another, support each other and remind themselves to remain original.
Sadly, their relationship was temporary. But this proves that even though it was short and sweet, the relationship had a lifelong impact on both individuals. More importantly, a positive lifelong impact. This relationship becomes a beautiful and strong memory for both of them, especially since they were the ones who pushed one another to pursue their dreams.
The Fools Who Dream
Those who are passionate move forward. Those who dream and are selfish enough to push through and strive for that dream are fools. However, they are fools who dream and inspire others. This relationship is evident in the film, though not directly mentioned: The relationship with yourself.
It is very difficult to stick to your original inspiration or dream and push through with it in mind. Nowadays it is so easy to get distracted and not fulfill your own ambitions. When one does not fulfill their goals, one finds it more difficult to pursue happiness. What Chazelle does so beautifully with this movie is deliver his message to the audience: Stay original and never let anyone stop you from dreaming.
This very movie is a personal example of that. Damien Chazelle had to struggle to even get the attention of studios in order to produce this film. It was a really risky concept: a musical, but more importantly an original musical. It wasn't based off a book, but based off someone's original, never-before-seen idea.
Chazelle is now the youngest director in history to win an Oscar. Imagine if Chazelle did not pull through with this dream. If he gave up, he would have never been able to show the world such an astounding piece of art. He would never have been able to inspire those dreamers in the audience to dream and to work hard for it. Chazelle remained true to his goals and ideas, being faithful to the relationship with himself, much like the characters in his film. Chazelle has proven himself to be a fool who dreams, and he has definitely caught the attention of the other dreamers just waiting in the crowd.