La La Land


True to the spirit of its title, the movie “La La Land” opens with an amateurish song and dance piece unglamorously staged in an LA (Los Angeles) traffic jam.  But whether the trite joke is simply a dramatic device intended to root the story firmly in the venue or to adjust audience expectations to the surrealistic flow of the narrative is moot, as both aims are more than amply accomplished.  For all its playful nature, the plot relentlessly morphs into a serious study of deeper human values.


Two extraordinarily talented but undiscovered and unfulfilled souls are repeatedly thrust together by unlikely fate.  Both truly are attracted to the other with a plaintive and heartbreaking yearning.   Despite best efforts to avoid involvement for the sake of an inept pursuit of success, they reluctantly discover a profound love in each other whose overarching joy releases them from the miserable complacency of past struggles.  But paradoxically this also provides the space and support to finally define themselves.


As the story progresses, they ever more mould themselves into forms dictated by their prior hopes and imaginations.  That both dreams originate in fantasies dictated by the haphazard chance of early childhood experience becomes unimportant as their minds and lives acclimatize to their fondest hopes.   Perversely, it is out of love that both ultimately motivate the other to pursue their dreams with increasing competence regardless of consequences.


The gritty evolution of their uncommonly well-matched connection contrasts well with otherwise serendipitous success stories that only dramatic license affords.  But both also exemplify a practical truth in different but similar ways, namely that the great unwashed public will ultimately redeem itself with a grudging respect for those ideals held with sufficient passion by gifted individuals demonstrating integrity.   Indeed, one renounces fame and fortune for personal satisfaction while the other leaves obscurity to joyfully embrace the glamour of popular acclaim.   Again providing stark contrasts, the joy of success is tempered by a manifest realization that happiness is something of a zero sum game.


The production is also something of a morality tale being light on comic relief, or any sight gags, or diverting attention to practical details of plot development.   Rather the story is told with a surrealistic bent fostering an imaginary exploration of love and fulfillment.   The unusual nature of the production with its frequent flights of fancy, with it minimalist approach to plot details, with the surprisingly tender and intimate examination of universal human questions and situations, with its grand sweep of life stories, and the truly touching ending make this a memorable movie destined for fame and fortune in its own right.