Sunday, May 14, 2017

La La Land's bittersweet ending: 2 reactions

I enjoyed La La Land (2016). It's well-crafted entertainment, a love letter to Los Angeles, and an homage to the classic Hollywood dream. The music is like comfort food that sticks to your ribs and tastes just as good on seconds and thirds.

Sebastian and Mia's love story touched my romantic idealist heart. But the depiction of their dyadic love as true and empowering yet fragile instead of resilient troubles me. If their love was true, Sebastian and Mia should not have broken up for the reasons shown.

La La Land reminded me some of Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, which is also a musical, with its bittersweet love story about talented, poor, ambitious artists in love who are denied a happily ever after. Where the jaded courtesan Satine introduces herself to Christian in Moulin Rouge with a comically bawdy come-on, lithe, winsome, sassy Mia introduces herself to Sebastian in an utterly charming way. I couldn't resist that and Sebastian doesn't. The lyrics of "I Ran (So Far Away)" describes Sebastian's hypnotized view of Mia and foreshadows Mia capturing and then breaking his heart. Mia doesn't die like Satine, but like she lip syncs the lyrics, she does run so far away. And Sebastian couldn't get away. He's still in love with her in the epilogue.

The opening scene (described here as an overture, ground rules, and primer) forewarns right away they don't make it with the foreshadowing by the girl on the freeway who sings about leaving her first love west of Santa Fe at the Greyhound station when they were 17, though "it was true" ("it" was her love? his love? their love?), because she chose to pursue stardom in Hollywood, instead. That's like Mia; on the other hand, the song can refer to Sebastian. He succeeds in his jazz club ambition and his song to Mia in the epilogue expresses sorrow, and possibly remorse, for not following Mia and instead pursuing his dream on his own.

The bittersweet ending bothers me because the movie tells me their love was true and they inspired each other in their respective jazz and Hollywood pursuits. If their love was both strong and empowering, then why was it so fragile? Why wasn't it more resilient? Couples have doubts, misunderstandings, and conflicts, and argue about them sometimes. That's normal. If their love was as true and empowering as the movie says, then none of the depicted doubts, misunderstandings, and conflicts should have been big enough to break their relationship. Their love should have been resilient.

The premise of the movie's denouement is they had to choose between love and ambition,
and their break-up sets up the epilogue. The problem is it doesn't make sense because the movie establishes a particular relationship for Sebastian and Mia that contradicts the love versus ambition premise. The lovers bonded over their artistic ambitions. They understood, encouraged, and zealously defended each other's jazz and Hollywood dreams, which should have been a cornerstone of their relationship. They improved each other. Mia adopted a measure of Sebastian's conscientiousness, which led directly to her big break, while Sebastian learned to be more flexible from Mia.

In other words, Sebastian and Mia's ambition is the last thing that should have caused their love to fail. Their jazz and Hollywood dreams should have been a core strength for their love, not the thing that tore apart their relationship. The proof of the benefit of their love to their ambition was plain in front of them their last time together - Mia's big break had just materialized due to Sebastian's career advice and tenacious support. Before Sebastian fought to save Mia's dream when she had given up on it, Mia had pushed back hard against Sebastian compromising his artistic standards, even for her sake. The bittersweet ending asks the audience to accept that their strongest battle-tested bond - their dreams - is the same thing that broke up their relationship, which makes their break-up look like an arbitrary decision by the characters or an unearned plot device by the director.

Although the movie shows Sebastian and Mia's fight precipitated their break-up, on the face of the story, their argument should not have separated them permanently. Neither of them cheated. Heck, their fight was over Sebastian staying true to his dream, and Sebastian essentially admitted his error when he refused to allow Mia to accept his notion of settling. Sebastian, dismayed by her criticism of his compromise for her sake, accused Mia of only valuing him for his suffering for his dream to assuage her suffering for her dream. But that's not right. The movie shows Mia sincerely wanted Sebastian to succeed. The priority was their dreams, not their struggle.

Sebastian and Mia shared a special chemistry that should have enabled them to clear up the misunderstanding in short order. They spoke their minds to each other from the start. He was extra-sensitively tuned to her. Sebastian remembered everything Mia said and she heeded everything he said. It seems out of character that they couldn't talk out their differences in the 4+ hours driving from Boulder City to Los Angeles or in the days that followed her audition. Sebastian could have easily explained overhearing Mia's phone conversation with her mom and reaffirmed to her he was saving his band earnings to open his own jazz club. To resolve their argument over Sebastian becoming sidetracked from his jazz club ambition, Mia should have only needed to reassure him that she wanted him to succeed, which is what she wanted, and she appreciated his compromise with Keith's band for her sake, while Sebastian should have only needed to reassure her his dream was intact and Keith's band was a means to an end. In fact, in their last time together, Sebastian responded to Mia's "What will you do" with "Get my own thing going", which is left ambiguous, but we can infer from the epilogue he meant his jazz club ambition.

Sebastian compounded the argument by missing Mia's one-woman play without apparently giving her a heads-up he might be late, but she was more upset about the show's seeming failure than his lateness. His act of love in pulling her back to LA for her audition with Amy Brandt, thus saving Mia's acting career, should have more than made up for his mistake and healed their breach. At that point, if their love was as true as they expressed, then their relationship should have been tempered and become stronger. She should have come home to him.

La La Land doesn't show a logistical obstacle that was insurmountable. While the time apart compelled by Sebastian's band commitments was a source of strain, it's normal for a young couple in love to miss each other while separated. Notably, Mia was happy for Sebastian's success with Keith's band until she realized he had compromised his artistic standards. Their argument was about Sebastian settling for Keith's band, not their physical separation as such. While they likely would have had a hard time being physically together for extended periods for, say, 2-3 years before turning the corner to their success shown at the 5-year mark, they should have been able to endure short, even medium-term work-related separations given their professed love and mutual support. Periodic and prolonged time apart due to work, school, etc, is unusual and difficult, but not altogether abnormal for a couple. Sebastian was already carving out time from his touring schedule to be with Mia. Until their careers settled in, they would have found days, weekends, or even weeks to be physically together.

With some patience and a little communication and planning, Sebastian and Mia could have achieved their career goals and stayed together. In the end scene with their careers stabilized, Mia and Sebastian still work and I assume live in the LA area at the 5-year mark. That's not unreasonable. If their love was as true and mutually supportive of their goals as the movie says, then they should have been able to endure some years of being separated a lot - not all the time - while they established their careers. It's not shown what David does for a living, but the movie hints that Mia and her husband aren't together all the time. Mia knew the work demands on Sebastian from Keith's band. If he was sidetracked from his goal of opening his own jazz club, then Mia should have reminded Sebastian to stay on course. Which she did. That was the subject of their argument.

In the vision of their life together that Sebastian shows to Mia in the epilogue, it's clear that Sebastian's path would have been different had they stayed together. It's less clear from the end scene that Mia's path would have changed had they stayed together. It's possible, if Sebastian had followed her to Paris, she would have been distracted by him there and flubbed her big break. But Mia became a movie star, married David, and had a daughter who appears to be 2-3 years old, not necessarily in that order, so it's apparent Mia did not need to be solely focused on acting for her career to take off. In contrast, Sebastian is shown living alone, so perhaps his parting advice to Mia really only applied to him, and he needed to be solely focused for his career to succeed. Or Sebastian was alone before Mia and alone after her because she was his one chance for dyadic love.

We can surmise Sebastian opened his jazz club with his band earnings. If Sebastian had followed Mia to Paris per the counter-factual vision, he likely would not have built up the capital needed to start his business. I assume the fame and reputation that Sebastian gained from Keith's band was also instrumental to his club's success from investors to attracting customers. He likely would have had neither the reputation nor capital to open his own jazz club if he had followed Mia to Paris. However, although the counter-factual vision implies Sebastian's decision not to follow Mia to Paris was pivotal, the physical separation by itself shouldn't have been fatal for their relationship had they stayed a couple, even if Sebastian didn't visit Mia in Paris at all. Mia only filmed a movie there, which usually takes a few weeks to maybe a few months; she wasn't moving to Paris permanently.

By my count, if their love was true, then the only convincing reason shown for Sebastian and Mia to break up is a realization by Sebastian that his love for Mia could replace - and perhaps was already replacing - his love of jazz. The counter-factual vision shows Sebastian understood that if he had followed Mia to Paris, his passion for her and their family together would have distracted him from his jazz club ambition, and he would have been happy and content as Mia's husband in David's place. If the issue was his overpowering love for Mia and not work-related physical separation, then it wouldn't have mattered whether Sebastian remained in LA or followed Mia to Paris. Sebastian had already made Mia his priority by taking the job with Keith for her sake and he's still deeply in love with her in the epilogue. It's plausible that Sebastian believed that if they stayed a couple, his love for Mia would have inevitably replaced his love of jazz, so before it was too late, Sebastian chose a life of jazz over a life with the girl he loves. That's not Mia's fault. She only encouraged Sebastian with his dream.

Wariness of his love for Mia could explain why Sebastian - the same Sebastian who snuck onto the Warner Brothers lot and found Mia in Boulder City - apparently broke off contact with her completely in spite of their amicable parting, if he knew he couldn't resist the power of his love for her with any contact. Five years later, the shock of seeing Mia in Seb's overwhelms Sebastian like Rick's reaction to Ilsa stumbling into Rick's in Casablanca. He loves her. Of course, Sebastian doesn't need to ask Sam - Sebastian can play it again himself. He plays their theme song to show Mia he loves her in the truest way he can.

From his parting advice that she needed to pour everything into her big break, it appears Sebastian believed he would have distracted Mia from her Hollywood dream like she was distracting him from his jazz club ambition. His song to her in the epilogue shows that had he followed her to Paris, Mia's love for him would have replaced her love of acting. Paris would have become the final act of both her Hollywood dream and his jazz club ambition. After they dance by the river Seine under the stars, they start a family and are blissfully happy and content, but there's no sign of Hollywood stardom for her or a jazz club for him.

I don't like that reason. I cried for Sebastian's loss. There shouldn't have been an either love or ambition dilemma for them. The girl in the opening scene foreshadowed, "I did what I had to do", but Sebastian shouldn't have had to choose for them. Sebastian initially settling for Keith's band for Mia's sake shouldn't mean he couldn't correct course and keep Mia. Their dyadic love if true should have been tempered, not split, by the events that ended their relationship. They unwaveringly believed in each other even when they doubted themselves. They understood, encouraged, and zealously defended each other's dreams. They should have been each other's artistic muse, not a distraction. Mia loves jazz now because of Sebastian and adamantly supported his jazz club ambition. Sebastian named his jazz club Seb's with the logo Mia designed for him, which shows she was his muse even after they broke up.

In their final spoken exchange at Griffith Park, Sebastian's answer, "I don't think we can do anything", to Mia's question, "What are we going to do", is blatantly wrong. He said that to Mia after drastically changing the course of her acting career and having just pulled her onto the path to stardom. After everything that had happened, the door wasn't closed on their love. He had saved it. In the fateful moment, they could have started a new chapter together. For Mia, she and he were still we. But Sebastian separated we into you and I. Sebastian should have answered Mia's "Where are we" with 'Here together' and her "What are we going to do" with 'Love each other'. Those were the answers he needed to give her for them to come home.

Sebastian and Mia should have fulfilled their love and art, both made stronger by the other, together. That's my romantic idealistic percept of La La Land's bittersweet love story.

Alternatively, Sebastian's song to Mia in the epilogue is not a what-if prediction. The sequence in his vision leading up to his following her to Paris is very different from their actual history. He's still deeply in love with her, but rather than a lament over an opportunity lost from regretful choices, the epilogue depicts a revisionist idealized fantasy of their relationship. Sebastian honored his love for Mia by saving her acting career, but it was a concluding act on his part, not a second chance for them. Their relationship was over by that point, ended when Mia broke faith with Sebastian by leaving him abruptly, lumped together with "all of this" of the disappointment of her Hollywood dream. She didn't even give him any way to contact her except inadvertently with her childhood story.

Mia leaving Sebastian like she did implies their love was, in fact, fragile.

The counter-factual vision shows a perfect sequence by Sebastian securing Mia's love. In it, Sebastian completely prioritizes Mia from the start, they have no friction between them, and there's no discouragement from her one-woman play to push her to run away from LA and him. But such perfection is unrealistic and shouldn't be necessary for dyadic love to establish; if anything, dyadic love is supposed to be the aspect of life that's the most resilient and the strongest bulwark against the trials of life. The discouraging audience for Mia's play was out of Sebastian's control altogether, and while he was late, he was there to pick her up. Sebastian wasn't perfect, but he did plenty enough to carry his part of their relationship.

Moreover, the movie showed that Sebastian and Mia didn't need to be perfect and walk on eggshells with each other. Their relationship was fortified with special chemistry. Sebastian was extra-sensitively tuned to Mia and remembered everything she said. She heeded everything he said. Their chemistry accommodated their foibles, such as Sebastian pressing his car horn to call for Mia as a rehabilitation of their first encounter on the freeway where he had angrily honked his horn at her and she had flipped him off.

Yet at a pressure point where Sebastian and Mia's pair bond should have been resilient, it collapsed under tension. Their love was passionate with special chemistry, but it also proved to be fundamentally defective. Her abandonment reminds me of the disillusionment of my romantic idealism when my straining efforts weren't reciprocated. It seemed the harder I tried, the more my leeway shrank and the path to dyadic love constricted to a dissolving tightrope, then dropped me into the void. Sebastian tried his hardest for Mia, even setting aside his jazz club ambition for her, yet he was given little leeway from her. After just an argument and a mistake, she abandoned him.

Sebastian and Mia were not on the same page in their relationship.

Notably in their argument, the discontent was one-sided from Mia. Sebastian was satisfied with loving her and had settled for Keith's band in order to care for her. Likely sensing she was unhappy, he had made the side trip home to be with her. But simply being with each other didn't satisfy her because, while she missed him, their physical separation wasn't the problem. Mia was happy for Sebastian's success with Keith's band until she realized Sebastian had compromised his artistic standards.

The fight revealed Mia didn't accept him as is. The argument blindsided him and Sebastian reacted angrily to her criticism of his compromise for her sake and interpreted it as Mia upset that he was no longer suffering for his art like her. But that's not right; Mia was upset that he was sidetracked from his dream.

Their fight was about ambition versus love more than a disagreement between two well-bonded lovers. On one hand, Mia was defending Sebastian's dream. On the other hand, upholding Sebastian's dream was as much about upholding her dream. Sebastian settled for Keith's band for her sake, yet Mia wouldn't leave LA to visit him on tour like he later didn't follow her to Paris. Whereas Sebastian prioritized their relationship, Mia cajoled Sebastian to refocus on his jazz club ambition because she chiefly valued - loved - him for his dream that mirrored her dream.

We're led to assume Sebastian callously neglected to give Mia a heads-up about the band's photoshoot and that precipitated her leaving him. But we don't know he didn't inform her that he might be late, and that kind of neglect towards Mia doesn't sound like Sebastian. He tried to make it to her play in time to at least be there when the lights came on, and he was there to pick her up. Whether or not he neglected to give Mia a heads-up that night, Sebastian made a mistake that he needed to make up to her. But it wasn't a mistake that should have caused them to break up. While hurtful, it was neither a betrayal nor an abandonment. His dedication to her never wavered. Mia didn't focus on his mistake when explaining her anger in any case. Rather, when Mia's dream was dashed with the seeming failure of her play, she left "all of this" behind in LA with no distinction between Sebastian's tie to her Hollywood dream and Sebastian for himself.

Sebastian wasn't right when he accused Mia of wanting to be with him only to assuage her suffering with his suffering, but her abrupt departure shows his insight wasn't far off the mark. She valued him only as far as she could identify his dream with her dream. When she gave up her dream, she gave him up in the same breath. There was no independent loyalty to Sebastian - Mia's angry rejection of "all of this" referring to her Hollywood dream was the same as her rejection of him.

In their interaction when Sebastian came out to Boulder City to pull her back to Los Angeles to meet with Amy Brandt, there was no sign from Mia that she felt hurt or regret for leaving him. It didn't seem like she missed him at all. It seemed like she had put him firmly behind her. She was cold to him, asking, "Why did you come here" and "How did you find me". Mia could have salvaged their relationship on the spot by reacting with love to Sebastian's act of love. Instead, she was displeased to see him, which forced him to justify his action with "Because I have good news" when the loving merit should have been implicit with no need for further explanation. Mia's tacit message to Sebastian in Boulder City was that his love was not welcome. She wouldn't even invite him into her home despite that he had traveled 4 or more hours to find her. (Where did Sebastian sleep that night in order to pick up Mia at 8 the next morning?)

It's a heart-wrenching feeling when you put your heart on your sleeve and go the extra (277.3) mile(s) for the girl you're in love with, like Sebastian did for Mia, only for her to respond to your impassioned effort with distaste. I know the feeling - it hurts.

When she asks him, "where are we", and he responds, "I don't know", in their last spoken exchange, the tone is not hopeful and passionate. Although their words seem to leave the door open for a reunion - "I'm always going to love you" (now that her dream is restored) and "I guess we're just going to have to wait and see" - the tone of their exchange is an ending. They've returned to the place they fell in love on a magical night, but in the stark light of day, they can see their pair bond is broken. They're not a couple anymore and there's no coming home for them.

Sebastian is extra-sensitively tuned to Mia, so his judgement, "I don't think we can do anything", should be regarded. The epilogue shows Sebastian still loves Mia deeply, and his song to her is a revelation for Mia that Sebastian had (and still) loved her for her, not just for her dream. But after their fight and the way she left him, Sebastian understood Mia had loved him chiefly for his function as a kindred dreamer, not him for him.

The fact is they did not reunite after that scene. More tellingly, they apparently severed relations completely after Mia left for Paris. Looking back from that fact, the friction that built up for Mia while Sebastian toured looks more like a sign that if Mia had left for Paris as Sebastian's girlfriend, the separation would have ended their relationship. If Sebastian had followed Mia to Paris instead of parting ways in LA, his insight from their fight that she valued him only as a fellow suffering artist might have been realized in a different way. If she evaluated their relationship according to the compatibility of their jazz and Hollywood dreams, then her dream changing shape with her success in Paris, while he continued to struggle with his dream, might have led her to break up with him. Or as Sebastian accused Mia in their argument, he might have resented her success. (I doubt it - Sebastian accepting Keith's job offer for Mia's sake and his song to her in the epilogue argue against the latter notion.)

A sign that the epilogue is an epitaph rather than a regretful what-might-have-been is that Mia's husband appears to be the same type as Greg, the boyfriend Mia left for Sebastian, the kind of nondescript steady provider Mia's mom wanted for her which had convinced Sebastian to agree to Keith's job offer. Moreover, Sebastian is similar to David as Mia's husband in the counter-factual vision, which implies that Sebastian as is was not Mia's type for a life partner, which further implies he was always a fleeting love affair for her. That piece of the counter-factual vision might also imply Sebastian was willing to become more like Greg or David for Mia's sake, like he had joined Keith's band for her sake - a change Mia might have accepted. Or not accepted, if Mia's love for Sebastian's dream did not synchronously evolve into the dyadic love depicted in his song.

Consistent with the movie's either/or premise, Mia leaving Sebastian taught him to re-prioritize his jazz club ambition. If their love for each other had been true, I still contend they should have achieved their dreams together. I don't uncritically accept the ambition versus love premise for their break-up; their love if true should have empowered their ambition with each other's muse and intimate support. The reason their relationship failed that I can identify with is that despite Sebastian's love for Mia was empowering and true, Mia's love for Sebastian was empowering but not true.

My cynical disillusioned percept is Sebastian's song in the epilogue is a beautiful dream of true dyadic love that was a fantasy only because Mia didn't love him for him. For Mia, Sebastian was not a love for all seasons but merely a passionate summer love affair between kindred dreamers striving and suffering for their art.

Well done, Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz. Harvard isn't usually considered an elite film and music school, but apparently it's that, too.

La La Land is a loving tribute to movie musical history, purposefully thick with references that are readily recognizable to film buffs and an invitation for casual movie watchers like me to look back at the classics.

There's some debate whether the counter-factual vision in the epilogue comes from Sebastian, Mia, both of them, or neither of them - which is to say, the audience but not the characters share the vision. According to Chazelle, a core concept of La La Land is film's potential to tell a story with sound and image as an expansive musical language, particularly with movie musicals, that's not limited to words. Along that theme, I believe the vision is conveyed from Sebastian to Mia with their theme song consistently with the notion established earlier in the movie that true soulful music is a language that communicates beyond words. Sebastian plays their theme song to Mia at Seb's to show his love for her in the truest way he can. (Stretch that notion further and a fantastical explanation for Sebastian's marked similarity to David at the end of the vision is that while the vision started from Sebastian, by the end of their theme song at Seb's, he and Mia are both communicating the vision across their soul connection that was first established with their theme song at Lipton's.)

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone have solid chemistry as an on-screen couple, which is the main qualification needed for the leads. Neither actor is conventionally handsome or pretty. Rather, they're both distinctive looking and attractive, which is a better combination. Their looks are relatable, and both actors know how to work their distinctive features for effect. In the triple-threat areas demanded by the musical format, Gosling and Stone acted well, as expected. Stone sang well enough to befit her lead role. Gosling more talk-sang than sing-talked. His singing slid along the border of pass/fail. They both danced competently and hit their marks like proficient actors who've been trained to dance for a role, technically adequate but markedly less than professional dancers. They're not worthy successors to Astaire and Rogers in that aspect, and La La Land would have been better if Gosling and Stone were expert singers and dancers, too. Nonetheless, the leads delivered well on the most important aspects, their acting and on-screen chemistry.

Like Ewan McGregor owned Christian in Moulin Rouge, it's hard to picture an actress other than Emma Stone as Mia. Ryan Gosling's performance is more akin to Nicole Kidman's Satine in that Gosling was capable as the other lead, but it's not hard to picture another actor playing Sebastian. Like McGregor sang much better than Kidman, Stone sang noticeably better than Gosling. To be fair, Gosling acted Sebastian better than Kidman acted Satine.

Will La La Land be a classic? Hard to say. Key parts of the movie, the opening scene and epilogue foremost, stand out as good and memorable enough for classic status. A core part of the movie's appeal, its purposeful call back to classic films, might also suppress its long-term status as a stand-alone film due to pegged comparative evaluation. If Gosling sang better and Gosling and Stone danced better, I'd compare La La Land's likely long-term status to Little Shop of Horrors. I'll compare La La land's long-term status to Moulin Rouge for now. I have to wait for some of its glitter to wear off and then watch La La Land again to test how well the movie holds up beyond its first impression.

Post-script notes from 2nd viewing:
- After Seb and Mia dance and she answers the call from Greg, Mia holds the fob to her chin again despite her earlier banter with Seb about it - she heeds him - and her car beeps.
- When Mia answers the call from Greg, the upward lilt in her voice evokes Mary's pitch and cadence answering Sam's phone call in It's a Wonderful Life. Both scenes depict the revelation of raw attraction between the central male and female characters.
- Mia had been seeing Greg for a month when Seb and Mia got together. She describes Greg as "sweet".
- The schedule for Mia's big break in Paris was rehearsal for 3 months and film shoot for 4 months.
- In the epilogue, Mia says she and David will see Natalie's "it" "back" in NYC and they "don't miss this" referring to the traffic jam, which implies Mia lives in NYC now. I guess she met her husband and daughter in a hotel (Chateau Marmont) room, not an apartment.
- The epilogue doesn't indicate at all what David does besides being a husband and father, but if they normally live in NYC, then he and their daughter traveled to LA with Mia, so maybe they are together all the time.
- La La Land's seasons are obviously a relationship arc metaphor. While we can guess-timate how much time passes from scene to scene, in terms of a timeframe, even besides the 5-year jump to the epilogue, the movie's sectional seasons are likely not close to 3-month seasonal blocks, except the beginning "winter" corresponds with the Christmas holiday season according to the decorations, play list, and dialogue at Lipton's. Otherwise, the weather, attire, background, and dialogue don't indicate annual seasonal changes in the rest of the movie.
- Mia definitely left Seb and Seb is definitely in love with her. Seb plays their song at the photo shoot. At the theater, he's desperate to catch up with her, tries to see her tomorrow at her place (presumably with her 3 roommates) when she says she's going home, and begs her to allow him to make it up to her for missing her one-woman show. Mia's "don't help me" seems to be blame for convincing her to put on her show, as opposed to anger at him over missing her show, their physical separation due to Keith's band, or their argument. She leaves him with "all of this" of her Hollywood dream.
-The subtext of their argument was he had modified his ambition to love her but she was unwilling to modify her ambition to love him, in that she wouldn't go away from her theater practice to visit him on the road. She bristled at his suggestion with the accusation he was compromising his dream, which he confirmed with an articulation of her fear. Going on the road with him represented compromising her dream, like he later didn't go with her to Paris.
-Why is Mia so nervous in the epilogue? In Casablanca, Ilsa's nervousness is understandable given how she left Rick in Paris. But Mia and Seb seemed to have an amicable parting at Griffith Park, so her Ilsa-like nervousness is unexplained. Seb's shaken reaction to seeing Mia in his club is understandable given he still loves her deeply.
-The movie seems more blocky in its story progression on a 2nd viewing with the multiple use of montages to move the plot from point to point. The portrayal of the deterioration of their relationship is more rushed and less developed than their attraction and coming together. The movie shows strain in their relationship, but not in a way that satisfactorily explains why they broke up. The soul connection of their song implies true love, but the portrayal of their break-up implies he loved her for her but she only loved him for his dream.
-Classic? My 2nd impression is no. I was less impressed with La La Land in my 2nd viewing. I still like the movie, but in contrast to, say, Grease, I don't feel enthused about seeing La La Land again. The opening scene is still impressive, but after that, the showpiece numbers are good, but they're not classic-level memorable. The pedestrian dancing of the two leads and Gosling's mediocre singing stood out more. The movie flags after Sebastian and Mia pair-bond at Griffith Observatory. The happy couple montage is charming, but the montage itself heralds the movie becoming more blocky with the story becoming more rushed and less developed the rest of the way.




Blogger steve j said...

Think about it

9/03/2017 8:40 PM  
Anonymous C said...

Great insights! Really made me think about the movie and its presentation in more detail, especially your thoughts on resilience.

11/11/2018 9:03 PM  

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