kat’s review published on Letterboxd:
Here's to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here's to the hearts that ache
Here's to the mess we make
Perhaps without the full intention to, La La Land was an INCREDIBLY depressing movie for me. I won't deny how beautiful and enjoyable it was and the feeling of floating that it gave me, it's just that at my current point in life, a lot of the themes hit close to home, and they hit hard.
I'm a college student pursuing an education in the film industry with a hopeful dream of a related career. I've always said I wanted to be a director, but that doesn't necessarily require a college education, and I'm not entirely sure if that's the direction I want to go. Film industry careers that rely heavily on creativity are more of a raw talent and passion pursuit that allows for education to be had along the way. This is where my dilemma lies when I'm looking at my student loan amounts, my classes, my progress towards my dream thus far, and everything else I've ever thought in my life. I wonder if I'm wasting my time in college, if I should just be out there doing what I've dreamed of for so long like Mia until it might work out. I wonder if at the end of my journey, I'll find out that I had nothing to offer at all and it was just a pipe dream. After reading some more about La La Land, I came across a quote from Damien Chazelle that without exaggeration made me cry, put my phone down, and go to sleep:
When I think about when I was writing Whiplash, a lot of what I was grappling with as well is how do you become whatever you're supposed to become? I guess that's there in La La Land, too. ... You don't know for sure whether you actually "have what it takes," and also you don't know if that whole idea of having what it takes — is that actually its own kind of nonsense? Is talent even really a thing? Is it actually just the best musicians are the musicians that work the hardest? Or the musicians who listened the most? Or the musicians who are lucky enough to be at a certain place at a certain time and what we think of as a meritocracy is actually not? ...
I think that's what made La La Land so heavy and full of impact on myself. There's not a single stable part to pursuing a creative passion. I ask myself daily if what I want to do requires talent, hard work, luck, or some unknown combination of both. This uncertainty, for me personally, is absolutely crippling sometimes, and La La Land truly played on that fear and paranoia without shame. It worked out for Mia and Seb, but will it work out for me? That'll be up in the air until it's suddenly not.
But on the topic of choices, Mia and Sebastian at the end are truly happy with where they have ended up: Seb has his club, and Mia is a bonafide actress. They are at a point in their lives when they can admit that every single step they have taken they would most likely take again to get to their current points. If they had made even the slightest different move, we'd have been watching a different movie. It brings back Sebastian's passionate rant about how jazz is different every night, full of conflict and compromise and how exciting is.
This movie can be perceived a hundred different ways and one each time you view it, and I'm sad that I'll only be able to view it once until it's out for download or DVD. But for now, my perception of it is sad, depressing, and contemplative. Where will we end up if we don't make choices that might hurt but are for the better? Will we find success if we don't make one choice at a specific time, or will it pass us by without ever knowing what could have been? Can we truly be happy with ourselves if we don't sacrifice everything we have for our dreams, even if it means we've left a mess in our wake?
God, I have way too many thoughts about this movie, but I don't want this to get too long. I can't wait to watch this absolutely spectacular of a movie again.