Although I love California, I'm not a big fan of Los Angeles. La La Land, the new musical fantasy movie, reveals both the car-clogged side I'm familiar with and a surreal fantasy perspective that lives in the dreams of aspiring artists.
The opening song and dance on the freeway shows the duality of the city and the duality of one's view of life. Most of those people stuck in traffic are on their way to dull jobs such as Mia's (Emma Stone) barista one, but dream of doing something creative; in her case, acting in movies. She meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), an aspiring jazz musician reduced to playing Jingle Bells on the restaurant's piano.
La La Land is visually stunning. The director shows Los Angeles in her best possible light, all twinkling lights seen from hilltops, a lonely pier at sunset, or a conveniently empty planetarium. We hardly ever see the traffic and highways and road rage. We do see the rejection and frustration, the conflict between selling out and being true to your ideals.
Most of the songs are forgettable, except for "City of Stars" and the haunting "Audition," which made me cry, much to my husband's surprise. He found La La Land "two hours of nothing." He felt there was no plot.
Maybe you have to be a creative person in order to get this movie. Although it has delightful songs and dances, it isn't as fluffy as it seems. It really made me think.
Is life a daily grind where talent is ignored or rejected over and over?
Or is it a freewheeling dance down the freeway?