La La Land has been a pretty popular movie, to say the least, since its release to theatres in December. Now with a worldwide box office of 396 million U.S. dollars, it has especially become a topic of conversation since the recent Oscars fiasco.
This year, I really did not pay attention to the Academy Award nominees (or any movies this past year in general), so finally seeing La La Land was also seeing my first movie on this year’s list.
I’ll be honest – I did not have high hopes for this movie despite popular opinion. I watched the trailer before the awards, wondering what all the hype was, and I just could not understand it. I actually even stopped watching the trailer halfway through due to pure boredom. To me, it seemed to be just a chick flick musical, and I am not a fan of chick flicks or musicals.
When I came home for spring break and was bored, my brother – who also felt inclined to investigate the hype – suggested we go see it. Sitting in the theatre with already low expectations, I was immediately turned off by the first scene. It’s a normal day on a California bridge, everyone is sitting in traffic, and everything is normal – too normal. Of course, not soon before long, everyone starts getting out of their cars and dancing and singing about how it’s such a nice day or something like that.
Yep, it’s a musical, I thought to myself.
My general mentality in life is this: keep your expectations low, and you’ll almost always be pleasantly surprised. Everything went according to this mantra.
I stuck through, and as the romance between Mia and Sebastian developed, I felt more and more drawn in. And the music and dancing seemed to only add to the romance and plot, which is something I thought would distract from the general point of the movie.
I began to fall in love with not only Mia and Sebastian and their relationship, but also with their connection to reality despite the unrealistic scenarios constantly occurring in the movie. I was shocked to discover that the genuine nature of real-life love was captured by random song, dance, and disregard of gravity. Mia and Sebastian represent both the happiness and hardships involved in relationships and the artistic emotions these circumstances can give birth to in a person’s mind and heart.
By the halfway point of the movie, I was completely hooked. I knew that no matter what the outcome of the story, I’d walk out of the theatre not regretting a single moment spent in front of the screen. And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, the last scene rolled around. I did not think it possible that such an unwanted ending could be so happy. (Okay, I take that back. Have you ever seen American Beauty?)
Although Mia and Sebastian’s relationship does not end up working out, despite that they’re an item for pretty much the whole movie, the audience gets an artistic flash of what could have been. It was this artistic flash - this fluid, whimsical, dream-like sequence – that truly demonstrates why no one was surprised when we were told La La Land won best picture. It was this sequence that took an on-screen musical, utilized unbelievable cinematographic talent, and proved that it is not a stage musical (but when that does happen you know I’ll be there.) It was this sequence that made sure I left the theatre a different film student and a different person.
Moonlight, you’re next, and you better blow my mind.