La La Land opens with a long shot in downtown Los Angeles where everyone is stuck in traffic. Suddenly, they start emerging from their vehicles and dancing on the hoods, twirling partners around, and some take charge of their own individual dances. Every person has their own destination in mind, but the characters influence each other by either challenging or encouraging each other. As the plot progresses, you do see this theme integrated in the choices each character makes and how they interact with the other characters.
The coordination of colors splashed on the screen is vibrant, incorporating yellow, green, red and blue.
One of the thematic threads that stood out is the idea that art appears to be dying and both the major characters have strong passions for keeping it alive. One thrives on jazz music and dreams of opening his own club and the other is relentless in her pursuit in theatre.
A scene I appreciated is when one of the main characters, Mia (Emma Stone), makes the comment about how she hates jazz and said she said it to “get it out of the way.” Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) then introduces her to a jazz club he likes to go to and points out how each musician plays to their own tune.
“It’s conflict, it’s compromise,” he says. “It’s never ending but it is dying.”
In the same scene or closer to it, the director cuts to a collage of the instruments, each in their individual image. I thought that was a powerful moment that reflected Sebastian’s words.
I do love the prevailing theme throughout the movie that strongly encourages viewers to step outside of their comfort zones and take more risks. Sometimes those risks lead you down different life paths. It shattered my heart into a million pieces, but for any art to be truly successful, it must resonate with strong emotion even if it’s painful.
La La Land received fourteen Oscar nominations after its December release, including Best Picture, Best Original Score, and Best Actor (Ryan Gosling). As a film major, you quickly understand that a release comprises many factors, especially those at the forefront like the director and actors, even the people who work from behind the scenes like the writing and the editing.
Even if you normally despise chick flicks or musicals, I would recommend watching La La Land at least once.