La La Land & Love: A Personal Reflection

I, a believer in true love, have so much faith in finding “the one” that I know for absolute certain that it will never happen. You see; it is my grim personal conviction that this truest-love I hold dear to my heart is so pure, and genuine and entirely fantastical that–as much as I wish for it to–it will never exist. I have always had understandable trouble trying to express this to people, trying to explain that I believe in something that I quite logically know for certain to be an actual impossibility: love. Recently, however, someone (that someone being Damien Chazelle) found the perfect medium to articulate my feelings: on a big screen, with lights low, popcorn in hand I saw this perfect creation of an explanation set out before me. It was La La Land.

            I’m not writing about this movie today because I thought it was especially spectacular, or because the colors were meaningful and vivid, or because, superficially, damn yeah ok Ryan Gosling we see you. I’m writing about this movie because it captures what precisely true love means to me, and why it is so completely impossible.

            SPOILERS AHEAD.

            In this movie we meet two relatively young individuals with big city LA dreams in music and cinema. Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, wants nothing more than to open up his own jazz club, and Mia (Emma Stone) wants to bring back the golden age of movies and be on the big screen. They soon, wrapped up in their wild ambitions and beautiful aspirations, begin to lean on one another for support and quickly fall in love. And when I say “fall in love” I mean they fall into the kind of love I believe in. The kind that’s selfless and beautiful and whimsical and true, but, in doing so, Sebastian finds that he cannot both pursue his dreams and be with Mia.  

             Convincing himself that he’s playing to make Mia happy and earn some money, Sebastian joins a band, in turn “selling out” by giving up on his dream to bring back the dying art of classic jazz. Mia, seeing his sudden shift in priorities away from his dreams, becomes cynical and sad before giving up on her own dreams. By the end of the film, Sebastian successfully helps Mia earn her first role in a feature length film. The two sit on a bench looking out on a stunning view when Mia says something along the heart breaking lines of “I am always going to be in love with you.” With that, the two choose to part ways in pursuit of their dreams.

            This is why I adore this film, and why I cannot seem to truly “believe” in the kind of love I so totally do. True love is understanding. It is seeing the person in front of you to the core of their soul, it is understanding their hopes and dreams and forgetting your own in order to help them achieve all of their luminous potential. But, in doing that, you lose yourself--there’s no question in that. Once you see the one you love sky-rocket into success and your work is done, you’re inevitably left alone again to refocus and find your own success. In choosing to stay with them, you loose that which you want most. Is it worth it? La La Land didn’t think so, and honestly neither do I.

            There I sat at the end of this movie absolutely sobbing because these two people so truly in love with one another were more in love with their dreams, and there’s something so beautiful and real there that I can hardly explain it. La La Land was beautiful, like I said, but not because of the music or the dancing or the costume design, but because it understands love and aspiration and the horrible fact that they cannot exist in harmony with one another. And–funnily enough as a firm believer in true love–I am so thankful for it.