By Desmond Homann, Variety Editor Originally published in Issue 8, Volume 33 of The University Register on February 26, 2021
“La La Land” is a romantic musical centered around Mia and Sebastian, played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling respectively, and their struggles in the “City of Stars.” Mia is an actress trying to find her “big break” by going through tedious auditions whereas Sebastian can’t even hold a job as a piano player in an upscale restaurant due to his scandalous hankering for jazz. Once they finally meet they begin to fall in love and grow as individuals, each supporting the other. Despite their fighting at the beginning of the relationship, they become overly attached to one another and start to expose their inner layers. These are not the onion-y layers of, say, “Shrek” but are instead for the... more sensitive types. The hopeless romantics and the artistically inclined. As they continue to follow their dreams, their relationship starts to crumble. From a romance to a tragedy, this movie portrays the struggles of life (in Los Angeles, of course, like every other movie ever) and finding one’s true self at the expense of others.
I enjoyed this movie—I cried my eyes out, cheered on the characters, danced to the soundtrack, and was gaslit by the false endings. (Of course a movie about a musical white man would gaslight me, amiright?) I am joking; I am a very gullible person and get easily confused by false endings. I suppose I should clarify, however, that the one catch with this movie is the... lack of people of color? For a movie that has an entire plotline about the power of jazz, they sure did pick a CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE WHITE MALE CELEBRITY. Hey! I love Ryan Gosling as much as the next guy! He’s a talented musician and a very handsome person, but there’s a difference between him chomping on a toothpick in the movie “Drive” and him being The Sassy, Rule-Breaking Jazz Icon here. (There was a specific word I was dying to use here, but I don’t think our Editor-In-Chief would appreciate the choice of language, even though I am just a white guy making fun of another white guy.)
Overall, I was impressed by this movie. I would have poked more fun at Ryan Gosling, but I think plenty of people beat me to it when “Moonlight” beat “La La Land” at the Oscars in a pretty rough mixup with plenty of second-hand embarrassment.
Image on top courtesy of Film Matters