La La Land: Move Review

La La Land is an excellent movie. It started out overhyped, went underhyped, and I hope now it’s settled correctly hyped. When I first saw it, I loved it. Then I talked to other people who pointed out all of the flaws. “Yeah I must be wrong.” I thought. But no. I just saw it again and it was actually amazing.

  • Colors

Holy smokes. I don’t remember the last movie I complimented because of the colors. All movies have colors, but this movie takes it to the next level. The pallet was vivid, bright, sunny and eye popping. Movies should be visually pleasing, and damn this one was. If you put the movie on mute, it would be worth watching merely for the spectacle.

  • Dancing

There was a little dancing. It was fun to watch! As an amature dancer, I was impressed.

  • Music

The songs will pull at your heartstrings. The recurring musical themes compliment the story pleasantly.

  • Exposition

There is none. You know she’s an actress because she works at Starbucks and sees an alert on her phone that she’s late to her audition. You know he’s obsessed with jazz because his furniture is comprised of famous jazz relics, and there’s a giant piano which takes up most of his apartment. M. Night Shyamalan, take note!

  • The intro…

A lot of people have a problem with the intro. It’s a song and dance number that has nothing to do with the rest of the story. None of the characters are introduced. None of the plot is revealed. What’s the point? It’s secretly a synopsis for the rest of the movie. If you listen to the lyrics they mirror the main character’s desire to be a famous actress, despite the hardship.

A Technicolor world made out of music and machine
It called me to be on that screen
And live inside each scene


And even when the answer’s “No”
Or when my money’s running low
The dusty mic and neon glow
Are all I need

It also serves to display the setting. LA is filled with diverse, optimistic, ambitious, talented people.

  • The ending…

When I watched the movie for the first time, I was thoroughly confused. Everyone I talked to was equally confused.


The first act shows Ryan Gosling as a hopeless romantic. He’s in love with a dying genre of music, jazz. Even though he’s late on rent, with no steady job, and has no friends, he persists. It’s heroic. He meets Emma Stone who is in a similar position. She’s in love with the idea of being a famous actress like her aunt. Even though she hasn’t had any luck in getting a gig, she keeps going to auditions. Ryan convinces her to make her own show and to hell with other people. This is why she falls in love with him. He encourages her to follow her dreams of becoming a famous actress.

In act two, things fall apart. He forfeits his dream of opening a jazz club and joins a pop-jazz band with a guy he hates so he can have a steady job. He stops being present in Emma’s life.

The resolution of the 3rd act is that Ryan chose his career instead of being there for Emma’s final performance of her play. Emma chose to pursue her dream instead of being Ryan’s groupie.

The final scene of the movie is the reveal that 5 years later Emma Stone ends up with her dream accomplished. She made it as a successful actress in Hollywood, and also has a happy marriage and baby with another guy. She walks into a random jazz club, which happens to be Ryan’s. Apparently he accomplished his dream too. The two locks eyes and have  a flashback/daydream with an almost literal Hollywood ending where everything worked out. They didn’t break up. She goes on to be a famous Hollywood actress and gets married to Ryan and they have a baby. There’s dancing, and it looks like a set for a musical, it’s surreal, but also mixed with some reality, so it’s hard to tell what’s going on. Then it cuts back to reality. They share one last smile and she leaves. What the heck is the message? What’s with the daydream? What?

If you only think about it from Emma’s perspective, it almost seems as if the message is, “follow you dreams instead of finding love,” because she broke up with Ryan and then became a famous actress. But… she found love in addition to her dream. So what’s the conflict? If you view it from Ryan’s perspective, the message is, “follow your dreams and you will find love.” He didn’t learn his lesson. In that sense, this movie is a tragedy. The hero did not overcome his weakness, and was punished by the Fates to suffer lonesomeness. He did accomplish his dream, so he did learn his lesson eventually, but not in time to salvage his relationship with Emma.

One thought on “La La Land: Move Review

  1. Wow to your review! Incisive and illuminating. Really admired how concisely and dead-on was your explanation of the twisty ending. I have reservations, though, about the notion that Ryan’s story is a tragedy. We are made to full-on experience the bittersweet moment when he encounters Emma and then has the dreamlike fantasy of what might have been. But the what might have been clearly is, we eventually realize, indeed a fantasy. Having that bittersweet moment, however, does not consign Ryan’s life to being any tragic existence. The art he pursued continues to sustain him because he did create the jazz club. He’s still young and handsome. I saw nothing to suggest that he is suffering any loss beyond having a fantasy future of a family with Emma. Her choice to have an itinerant career was sadly incompatible with his career choice, but I don’t think the incompatibility is tragic . He loves her and, given his high character, would not have wished for her anything less than her achieving the personal and professional happiness she actually has. It’s not shown in the movie, but nothing suggests he isn’t ultimately happy for her. As for him, he’s on his own road to having his own happy ending – just not with her.

    The tension in the movie, and finally its message, I think, is that when life gets stuck in traffic, make the most of it.

What do you think? Right? Wrong? Pure poppycock?