/ Trivia

La La Land and its many criminally misunderstood aspects

Certain kinds of intimacy are a necessarily profound and fun ride, but they are only parts of our personal development, leaving behind both joy and melancholy.

[This article contains spoilers for La La Land.]


Having opened last year as one of the most potential Oscar contenders, La La Land swept the audience off their grooving feet with an emotional ride through Justin Hurwitz’s charming jazz numbers and a timeless tale of youthful ambition. It proved its worth with 7 Golden Globes and 6 Oscars, becoming the most decorated movie of 2016.

Yet, when it comes to the backlash, naysayers have got a lot to say about how La La Land lazily pulled off its finale with “cliché” storytelling. While all arts are subjected to criticism and personal taste, opposers might have watched this movie in the wrong way.

Ryan Gosling, Marc Platt, Emma Stone, Gary Gilbert, Fred Berger, John Legend, Damien Chazelle, and Jordan Horowitz


There are certain questions that were aimed at La La Land and completely missed the whole point.

Sebastian, with his look and talent, still struggles with his bills and daily work. Why?

Sebastian is a hermit. He was ripped off in some partnership in the past and probably got divorced (or is the ring on his right hand a ruse for “Stay away, ladies”?). He displays steadfast in his life decisions with a brave and conviction for what he truly appreciates. Most of all, he is passionate about a dying art genre and initially does not prepare to compromise, so he just walks around playing small-time gigs. They are the only true remnant of enduring classical jazz he knows.

Ryan Gosling as the passionate artist Sebastian

Ryan Gosling is cast as a jazz musician. Why?

Gosling has the caliber for what is described in aforementioned points. His arguably best role is The Driver in Drive (2011), who suppresses a lot of emotions inside and refuses to express them first (or at all) because he doesn’t feel the need to. The “a story about attractive white people” problem here does not directly relate to Gosling and Stone being white. These two were cast, inventively and commercially, because of their A-list status and mutual chemistry from previous films (Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Gangster Squad).

Sebastian probably stayed too high on his own proverbial horse until he wants to show Mia that jazz is still relevant. On their first date, he sits her down and makes her listen to a jazz performance with so much eagerness. Also, the trademark car honks (without proper guest manners) are a subtle hint, pointing at his motive to express himself through music, not mundane interactions. Note that Greg, Mia’s ex, attentively comes into her room but quickly retreats for a business phone call.

Mia is attracted to Sebastian. Why? How does the relationship progress?

A lot of people pointed out that their encounter after Sebastian is fired is absurd – due to the fact Mia used to hate jazz. But then again, the incident is ironically crucial for the beginning of their connection. Mia feels Sebastian’s dedication to his own line of work, which, in turn, rings true to her stage ambition. This alone could overpower her dislike of his favorite genre.

A key point in their relationship is when Sebastian decides to join a band led by his friend Keith (John Legend). Mia loves Sebastian, but the truth is she loves his inseparable passion for classical jazz. That’s why she left Greg (and his stock market investment, big-time corporate gibberish) and ditched a writer at the party (who boasts about telling Goldilocks and 3 Bears from the villain perspective). She hates those utilitarian, shallow clichés.

Director Damien Chazelle on set with Emma Stone, Finn Wittrock, and Josh Pence

Being a team player in his new band, the fierce jazz artist reluctantly sets aside his own endeavors and disciplines and joins hands to create a modern image of jazz. “No, that’s not the man I fell for.”, Mia probably reacts with an Angry on the boys’ Facebook fan page.

Also, Keith’s band doesn’t represent any assumably frivolous evolution of jazz, and neither is he a sign of disrespect to the long tradition of black communities. Everything evolves, and “Start the Fire” is awesome. Therefore, this specification here only accentuates Sebastian’s praiseworthy stubbornness to stick with his style.

What’s the deal with that ending? 5 years? Are you The Chainsmokers, Sebastian?

Life happens. From a nobody to some big shot A-class star, what do you think Mia had to go through? Just see for Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield in real life. They split after 4 years (and a marriage plan) because of schedule conflicts. Also, the audience should not make the mistake of just assuming Mia’s husband is boring because he seems square.

The funniest thing is Damien Chazelle and his editor Tom Cross decided to cut the ending before anything else. Chazelle did not write the ending first, but he had it in his mind for the whole time while working on the script. Eventually, everything told in the previous 110 minutes builds upon each other to reach the perfect climax, which is a heartfelt montage of fantasy – what could have happened if their relationship had worked.

There’s even a foreshadowing for this scene in the opening number “Another Day of Sun”: “‘Cause maybe in that sleep town/He’ll sit one day, the lights are down/He’ll see my face and think of how he used to know me.”

They all come together for a particular moment, which is their brief, spiritually powerful reunion.

Why is the movie named La La Land?

LA LA LA-nd. 3 times LA. 3 times Los Angeles.

Mia and Sebastian see the core essence of themselves in each other. The only thing they have in common is the idealist passion for arts, hence sympathy and harmony, and it’s the only kind of love worth loving for them in their 20s. The two artists always aim high, so anything on the way there may just be a phase as any youth relationship should ever be.

Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz


Here, Chazelle does not mean to undermine intimacy but rather implies that certain kinds thereof are a necessarily profound and fun ride. How to carry on is a different story. The most important idea is that intimacy served its role in building up personal development to a certain goal personally prioritized by real life people; that’s the City of Angels for you, dreamers.