Best of the Week: La La Land

Yet again, the best film that I watched this week, without a doubt, is La La Land. Since I’ve  reviewed the film already, and since I wrote about it last week for my Best of the Week post, this is going to be slightly different. In this post, I’m going to be discussing aspects of the film that I caught onto during my second viewing, and I will be talking about spoilers; this post will be more for people who have seen the film. I linked to my spoiler-free review above if you’d like to read that instead of this.

One aspect that I pieced together was the structure, which takes place in 4 chapters, and then an epilogue. Chapter 1 is “Winter,” and is the first season in which we see Mia and Sebastian. The first time they “communicate,” Sebastian honks at Mia, and Mia flips Seb off. Kind of a cold way to greet somebody, isn’t it? That’s partially why this could be considered “winter,” because they haven’t warmed up to each other, or to their fullest professional potential yet, which I’ll get to. In this first section, Mia is not loving her work, which undervalues her and doesn’t care about her life or desires, she keeps not getting chosen for casting calls, and she doesn’t like any of the guys whom she meets. Sebastian, on the other hand, is more or less in the same position; he wants to open a club but doesn’t have money, his job won’t let him be creative with his art, and he isn’t interested in any of the girls that want to meet him. All of this is, however, until they meet each other.

“Spring” is the next chapter in the film, and the chapter in which these two springboard into the great relationship that develops. In this chapter, Mia dumps her boyfriend to spend time with Sebastian, and they share the greatest first date in history, which is seeing Rebel Without a Cause at the Realto, and then dancing in the Observatory. Some audience members seemed to chuckle and roll their eyes at the floating scene, but I’m confused as to how they don’t understand the scene. Just off the top of my head, I can think of one great explanation for the metaphorical imagery shown in this scene. Ahem, so they walk into the dome-room, flick the switch, and the stars come on. After that, they dance over to the chairs, look in each other’s eyes, and start to lean in for a kiss except that Mia’s handbag floats into the air. They watch it fly away, give each other strange looks, and then walk into the stars and dance. When they’re done, they walk out of the sky, down to the seats, lean back next to each other in the chairs, and kiss. That whole sequence could have been a metaphor for how they felt while kissing each other, which could have been what they were doing that whole time instead of dancing in the sky. To me, that makes perfect sense and is a great explanation, but if you have any other ideas, comment them below! What did that scene mean to you?

“Summer” is the next section, and this is when the characters are at their high point in their relationship, and in their own lives until next “Winter.” Sebastian is getting a career going, one that he thought both Mia and her mother would like him having, and Mia is planning for her first directorial, writing, and acting debut in her very own play. Everything seems to be going great, and they’re both happy with each other and with their own lives. This sequence ends, and this is important, with Sebastian playing his first live concert with The Messengers. The only song that we hear them play is “Start a Fire,” which contains the lyrics “we can start a fire… come on, let it burn…let the tables turn….” At the end of this sequence, we see that Seb’s fans are pushing to the front, and getting between Mia and Seb as she is pushed into the background. This could not be a more obvious explanation for what’s going on: Seb’s music is getting between Mia and him, and it’s causing problems in their relationship…

“Fall” is the sequence that starts after the concert scene, and it starts with Mia on the phone, leaving Seb a message that she hasn’t seen him in awhile and wonders when he’ll be home next. When she walks in, he is there to surprise her with dinner, but things don’t go well when they discuss his job in the band. They admit that it’s coming between the two of them, but he thought that it was what she wanted. Both of their jobs are keeping them from being together, and just when the fight reaches its peak and Seb insults Mia, the smoke alarm goes off. Why does this happen? Because he started a fire, and the tables have turned, just like the song he played warned us of. Then, he nor anybody else shows up to her play, she gets bad reviews for it as soon as it ends and decides to move back home until she can get onto her feet again. Seb chases her down to tell her she’s been asked to come in to meet with a casting director (or whoever it was), which sort of shows us that even though she was falling, that she fell into the right hands in the end. At the end of this sequence, they talk about their relationship and agree that they don’t know where they are now, but that they’ll always love each other.

“Winter.” When this sequence begins, we see that Mia did end up being successful, and is married with a baby girl. Mia and her husband, on a date, decide to check out a jazz club, which ends up being “Seb’s,” just like Mia requested that Sebastian call his club. When Mia sees this sign, she is overwhelmed with emotion and doesn’t know how to react when she Sebastian on stage introducing the members of the band. When he sees her for the first time in five years, he looks down and feels exactly she same way she does. Heartbroken, he sits down at the piano and plays their theme song, which he got fired for playing at the beginning of the film. This song evolves through all of the songs we’ve heard in the film, and on screen, we see a romanticized version of their relationship, had everything gone perfectly. This brilliant and beautiful “What If?” sequence chronicles their lives together, as we’ve seen, but with every moment being happy instead of stressful. This is the “La La Land” scene, as I like to think of it because it is really Sebastian in dream-world (la la land) imagining that their relationship had gone differently, had gone better. Even though they’re both happy and successful, there will always be that longing between each other to be together, but they know that it won’t work. At the end of this sequence, Sebastian stops playing and Mia leaves. As she walks out, she stops and looks back at him, who looks back up at her. With a long glance followed by a subtle smile, we see that it’s true that they will always love each other, even though they can’t be together.

Well, that’s my brief rundown on the film, including certain things that I picked up on or pieced together while watching it a second time. What are some great things you noticed about this film when you watched it a first, second, third, or fifteenth time? Let me know! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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