La La Land: Movie Review

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My goal for 2017 is to write more- write on this blog, in my journal, in my iPhone notes, in my half-written chapbook/short story collection/essay collection. And I want to blog about my New Year, about the 2 weeks I spent at home, even about the panic-inducing dream I had a few nights ago that had me sweating at 4AM, calling my mom. Hell, I even want to tell you all about my terrible sinus problems (if you follow me on any other social media, I’m sure you’ve heard too much about it already). But I really can’t write about anything before I gush about La La Land, my new obsession. This movie had me dazzled for 2 entire hours, enthralled and curious and fearful. After I watched it, I felt as if I had no choice but to immediately journal every feeling it made me feel. This was such a tremendous piece of art that I didn’t want to lose any of it- I didn’t want to forget the way it felt to see this for the first time. Nothing feels as urgent right now as writing about this, before I awake out of the magical sphere of just experiencing something artistically brilliant for the first time.

La La Land. Two artists; ambitious, hopeful, on the verge of losing hope. A love that arrives clumsily, that strikes immediately. The whimsical nature of a musical is contrasted severely by the somber, lonely nature of both Sebastien and Mya. They each push onward after rejection on rejection, one with music, one with acting, believing that if they pretend hard enough, give off vibes of ‘I’m okay with my lonely self,’ they can combat what is a painfully obvious truth, which Mya eventually reveals, quietly, “love is the dream.” Both of them want a dream fulfilled, never realizing until meeting one another how large the dream of love looms, how competitive the dreams of love and art can be.

The movie is chaptered by seasons, winter, spring, summer, and fall, each season progressing their relationship and their dream-achieving. Chaptering the movie this way immediately gave me a sense of of dread: when would the end arrive? When would the inevitable doom come? I felt such blissful hope for the two of them in Spring and Summer, flowers blooming, sun shining, the two of them falling gently and quickly into a life-changing love, smiling, dancing, loving. The over-the-top first dance together exemplified the flighty feeling os the first indication that the person across from you may be more than just a person. It’s a tap=dance of what ifs and stubborn ‘save yourself the troubles.’ And their next dance, in the observatory- the two fly into the stars, reaching for one another. It truly is a la la land, an impossibly beautiful feeling of wholeness that is only possible through true love. I’ve felt this way: floating, dreamlike above the ordinary, my love so great and crushing, so clearly and magnificently reciprocated that nothing here on this plane of existence could understand.

Their summer together feels that way: high, impossible, right. The stars stay, for awhile, and they dance and smile, somehow believing, again, despite how much they know the truth of improbability, that true love could be enough, that no other force could be so cataclysmic. In the audience, I wept. There always comes the truth, usually brought about in an ugly way so contrary to the beauty of the love, an earth-shattering disruption in the relationship, a chasm into which the magic falls-the la la land of love must always end up here, in the tragic chasm of ‘what if’ and ‘if only.’

‘I’m always going to love you.’ An undeniable truth. In ways, the la la land lives on. But perhaps the brevity of their time together, the tragedy of breaking, the feeling of deep injustice that they did not make it, is what made the love so big, so great. Perhaps the big loves are always the ones that end too soon.

Each artist here reaches their dream, Sebastien with his own Jazz cafe, Mya with a movie-star life. But neither reach the dream with the other person; their artistic dreams do not hold hands with their love dreams. The artistic dreams won out- perhaps the love dream was too all-encompassing. Mya unknowingly walks into Sebastien’s cafe with her husband (who is so sadly not him), and when she and Seb meet eyes, my chest weakened. Why, why, why! Why wasn’t love, true, paramount love, enough?! How could it not be enough? How could things so small as timing and place and circumstance defeat them?

Humans are proud, stubborn creatures. We feign disinterest, worry we’re more vulnerable than the other, all of it hidden in attempts to save face. How can it happen?! And yet it happens every day. We choose because we fear pain, we fear vulnerability. We fear the all-encompassing because what if it does engulf us? What then? Once the chasm opens, we doubt it all, worry over the compatibility of a la la land once shared together. We begin to disbelieve.

But even after the choices are made, la la land still breaks through at times. And in special moments, it takes us so far back, so far into the ‘what could have been’- like when Seb plays the sad, slow song for Mya the night in his cafe, the same song he was playing when he first saw her. Within the notes is their story, the lives they could have lived and loved- an ongoing la la land, both mystical and tangible, so improbable, but what was once so close, so very possible. It hurt so badly to see what could have been- a love like that must be fantasy- and yet, it’s there. And yet, it’s something they both know. It’s la la land, unbelievable, and yet it’s real. It’s love.

The last smile the two of them share haunts me- a thank you, an acknowledgment of ‘I still love you,’ a nod to seeing one another again in la la land, and a passing, coy smile of ‘how the fuck did we mess it up this bad?’

None of us know what the fuck we’re doing, with our dreams or our love. Maybe the best we can hope for is this last smile, this last loving nod toward la la land, where a part of us will live, forever.

 

 

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