Everyone has a dream; a wish they harbour in their heart, hoping someday it may come true. The dream is full of colours and joy, it is a reverie that keeps you floating while your feet are still bound to reality. Because as fascinating the idea of achieving your dreams is, the actual struggle of making your way through reality is drearier. Yet, you can’t be the prudent winner without being a fool who dreams. 2016‘s ‘La La Land’ is all about those fools. Full of Hollywood’s romanticism that’ll sweep you off your feet and marked with the practicality of life that’ll break your heart, Damien Chazelle’s “love letter to LA” is a modern classic that is inspiring, prosaic, passionate and pragmatic, all at the same time. This balance is what allowed it to be one of the best, if not the best, films of the year. A record-breaker at award shows and a money-maker at the box-office, this Oscar winner (though not for Best Picture) is a mandatory watch for any musical lover.
What sets ‘La La Land’ apart from other films in the genre is how meticulously laid out it is. There is one theme of the film that supersedes all others, and you can tell that by the convergence of the characters, the dialogues, the music, and even, the colours towards that. If you haven’t seen it, I suggest you do it ASAP. Why would you want to rob yourself of this experience? If you have watched it, let’s scrutinize the film closely. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Summary of the Plot
At the centre of the story are Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). Both of them are pursuing a dream in LA. She is an aspiring actress and he is a musician who wants to open his club and revive the dying art of jazz. She is bubbly, colourful and easy-going; he is a traditionalist who values the things of the past, and his somewhat stoic demeanour doesn’t make him an easy person to love. These conflicting personalities gravitate towards each other by the shared passion for their individual dreams. They fall in love, boost each other’s morale, keeping the spark alive while facing the brunt of reality. But the same pursuit that had brought them together begins to cloud their future, prodding them to go their separate ways. To make their dreams come true, they have to wake up and face reality.
Different Shades of Dreams and Reality
Apart from the exemplary performances by the actors, Chazelle used other tropes to highlight the tone of the story. Along with the music and the lyrics, the colours become a key to reflect the moods of the characters, bringing out the thoughts inside their head without having to say it out loud. Cinematographer Linus Sandgren, who received an Oscar for it, and costume designer Mary Zophres, who was nominated for an Oscar, helped make the film a colourful experience, while not compromising with its expression.