I finally watched La La Land last night! This feels like a victory in and of itself in the days of Trolls and Moana (as discussed a few days ago). Since I just wrote about Moana and I often have feelings to process after being exposed to film, I figured I might as well say a few things about La La Land too.
I'm going to get the dirty stuff out of the way right now. I wish Ryan and Emma's voices were better. There. I said it. The film was great and the ending moved me. But if Ryan can learn how to be a jazz pianist in three months, why isn't the singing better? Also, does anyone else experience an awkward pause whenever a new musical starts the first song? It always feels so weird. I love musicals, don't get me wrong. But there is a moment where you don't want to be cool and appreciative of the artistry. You just want to laugh at the audacity of making a film where people burst into song in the middle of scenes and even end up dancing in the stars at the observatory. If you feel like awkwardly laughing when you see a new musical, you're not alone.
Okay, shove that under the rug now so we can be friends again and get to the real meat of the movie. I had two distinct thoughts about the film. One, when two artists come together, even for a period of time, they will both be greatly affected and inspired by the other. It's beautiful to watch. And spoiler alert, neither of them would have gone on to fulfill their dreams had they not met each other. I was just discussing this with a friend the other day. She's an incredible artist and we dialogue about our writings and pursuits often. She's one of my greatest cheerleaders in my artistic endeavors. And we are both with people who support our artistry but are not our artistic partners. I find this to be common, especially for someone like me who discovered her abilities way after she got married. If I didn't know I was an artist (writer), why would I have known to pick someone who is interested in my writing? I wouldn't have. For what it's worth, my dear is interested in some things that bore me to tears so we have a very mutually respectful slight distance in these areas. To each their own.
But Sebastian and Mia are both actively pursuing their dreams when they meet. And she's so inspired by getting to know him that she leaves the schlub she's with (right in the middle of dinner!) to chase him. Love it. One of my favorite moments in the movie is when she calls him out for settling with the band (love me some John Legend). True love is not allowing the other to drift too far. I'm all about evolution. I've written about it quite a bit. Tim and I are both nowhere near the people we married and I'm so thrilled and happy for us that there is enough space and respect between us to have fostered that kind of growth. But in this case, Seb wasn't growing; he was back-sliding. And Mia cared for him enough to call him on it, even if it harmed their relationship. That's love.
And he believed in her when she couldn't go on putting herself out there. In the end, his pursuit and encouragement made all the difference. She went on to become the person she was meant to become as a direct result of his influence. That leads me to my other thought. No matter if you end up with someone forever or not, they can leave an indelible mark on your life. That's beautiful. And that connection stands. Before they went their separate ways, they both confessed that they would always love each other. I believe that love held up through the final scene. I have had many special people in my life that are no longer in my life or are no longer the love in my life. That in no way negates the influence they had on me then or even now. Love pays itself forward. I imagine some thought the film had a sad ending. I believe it was the ending many people have in life. And you can spend your time re-imagining everything that's happened (loved that scene too, so trippy!) or you can take the gift, cherish it always and live in the bounty that loved reaped in your life. They are both better because of each other. And after the film, Tim pointed out that Mia seemed genuinely happy in her marriage and with her child. It's not a tragic story. It's nostalgia meets reality. It's a place I live in all the time as someone who is very emotional and loves looking back. It's not tidy, nor particularly commercial (though the film was obviously celebrated), but it is true. And I'd rather live a true story than a perfect one any day.