After seeing La La Land last year, I went straight home, lay on my bed, and stared up at my ceiling as I tried to come to terms with what I had just seen and all of the emotions I was feeling because of it. I felt raw, vulnerable, and I couldn’t stop tearing up as I thought about the movie, recalling certain scenes and songs.
La La Land broke my heart.
I grabbed my phone and put that in a Google search. I had to know that I wasn’t alone, that there were other people who felt as affected by the film as I had. The search came back with plenty of reviews and I read them all. I spent several days reading reviews, trying to find just one that made me say, “Yes! That’s exactly how I felt!”
The reviews mostly spoke about the visual aspects of the film, the classic movies referenced, and whether its assumptions of the attitude towards jazz today are correct or not, but none of them talked about it stomping on their hearts and leaving it in bits. The reviews I read are all great and are linked below.
I looked up tweets and YouTube videos. The closest I came to finding someone who reacted similarly to me is this vlog by Lucy Moon and this vlog by doddlevloggle. That distant look she gives as she talks about the film being beautiful and hurtful at the same time is exactly how I felt when I stared at my ceiling and the last scene played over and over in my mind.
To me, La La Land is the most real and devastating love story I’ve ever seen. There are spoilers beyond this point, so look away if you’re the only person who hasn’t seen it yet.
I interpretted the final scene as being a glimpse into Mia’s fantastical daydreams. When Mia stood in the bar watching Sebastian play the piano at the beginning of the film, she played the scene in her head of how she wanted things to happen – her approaching him and he kissing her in an act of passion. The reality was, of course, a let down. She did exactly as she imagined, approaching him and starting to tell him that his music stopped everything and drew her inside, but instead of romance, he ignored her and barged past without a single glace back.
This continues for the rest of the main events of the film. Every decision and action Sebastian made in the real world was different in Mia’s daydream. And everything that happened in Mia’s daydream was the perfect lead up to her perfect fantasy – having a family with Sebastian while all of her dreams were realised, even if that meant his were compromised in order to support hers.
I admit I was crying a lot during this last scene, because I can relate to it completely. I am a chronic daydreamer. My imagination is both my strength and my weakness. I am always daydreaming about situations I want to happen, and am often disappointed by the reality, especially when it comes to dating.
I have imagined how a conversation would go with a guy I like – with everything being said the perfect thing to say – only to be in an awkward conversation or something anticlimactic. This situation makes me think of Carrie Hope Fletcher’s song, Boys in Books are Better.
However, what I loved about the ending of La La Land is that they were both happy. They’re relationship may not have worked out, but they were living their dreams, Mia was married to a great guy and had her family, and they were genuinely happy for each other. No one settled for second best and felt regret for letting their greatest love get away. It was a nice change from the usual Hollywood love stories.
This is why I thought it was so real. You can be utterly in love with someone, but the relationship just doesn’t work, and you can find love with someone else where the relationship just fits better.
So, my heart was broken, but like Mia and Sebastian, I can smile at what was and know that everything will be okay.
- La La Land: A Musical Ode to Men Who Love Loving Jazz by Anna Silman, The Cut
- La La Land‘s Ending Reveals the Movie’s True Romance by Hunter Harris, Vulture
- La La Land is Clueless About What’s Happening in Jazz by Seve Chambers, Vulture
- Why La La Land is Exactly the Movie We Need Right Now by Mashable
- Three Classic Musical Scenes Evoked by La La Land by Monica Castillo, New York Times
- The La La Land Backlash: Why have critics turned on the Oscar favourite? by Noah Gittell, The Guardian
- The Dangerous, Aimless Optimism of La La Land by Liza Batkin, Broadly