An observatory, a boulevard, a bridge, a downtown trolley, all make up filming locations of the new film "La La Land". These locations are iconic, yet remain unnamed throughout the film. The sum of these locations create the city of Los Angeles. Any meaningful production is a sum of its cast members and in the case of "La La Land" there is no difference. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) come together to create a wonderful production, but a lesser known yet ever present cast member is the city itself. Throughout the epic musical sequences, the city in its whole is either visible or represented by its historic street lights. Some might argue that the city is a backdrop to the songs and dancing of Sebastian and Mia but the city itself takes center stage with the vibrancy of a leading man. It lends its beauty to be danced upon by Sebastian and Mia without relinquishing its hold as being the center of attention.
Mia being a minor actress in Hollywood goes to casting calls where those auditioning look the same. This image of Hollywood conformity lends itself to the character of Sebastian who has to change his performance identity much in the same way Mia has done in order to fit in and make a living in the beast that is Hollywood. With this being said the performances of Mia and Sebastian are one of a kind, lending itself to a sort of fantasy adaptation of falling in love. The imagery of the film stops at nothing to convey the idea of love and the concept of a soulmate, while the business aspects of Hollywood coupled with the necessity of survival keeps the two characters at odds. The film represents a city, a city that often times is at odds with itself; a city that identifies talent based on familiarity rather than the unique and often overlooked aspects that create it. Ultimately "La La Land" is a story about conforming and not conforming and the gains that can be had in between. LA is marketed as the land of dreams, yet is often overlooked and stacked on a pile of dreams that will never come to fruition.
The film explores the idea of "what if", and tackles the idea of a working Hollywood versus a Hollywood where the idea of art is paramount. "La La Land" focuses on the idea of money versus art, and shows that nobel aspects of creativity are often ignored to focus on the monetary aspects of the industry while leaving behind the very art that drove them in the first place. The movie is very much paced in the realm of Hollywood where the cadence of the film is action packed with all the fervor of a young person entering Hollywood for the first time, yet as Mia and Sebastian learn the inter-workings of Hollywood the film slows down to reflect the realities that are faced when having to juggle income and art.
"La La Land" reignites a fire that has been lost from a Hollywood that is so focused on relaunches and reboots. It's refreshing to see a totally unique film, especially one that grasps the nature of Hollywood and Los Angeles in such an unconventional way. The singing, the dancing and cinematography move in perfect concert to give the appearance of something larger than life. The long musical sequences often border on the surreal, taking the shape of a wonderful dream with dance numbers in the clouds and in the stars. Yet at times the pacing of the film seems to trail off to a point of being boring, this is quickly remedied, but remains an aspect that should be looked at in editing.
Watching "La La Land" is like being awake during a wondrous dream, there is something unique and magical about the chemistry between Mia and Sebastian as well as the visuals of Los Angeles that surround them. As he sits at his piano, Sebastian sweetly and softly sings Mia a love song, a powerful couple of lines that represent love, art and life. "City of Stars, are you shining just for me, City of Stars there so much that I can see, Who knows is this the start of something wonderful and new, Or one more dream that I cannot make true." With "La La Land" a dream has come true, and made its way onto the big screen.