Revisits: La La Land

Conversation between me and my best friend

 Me: Did I ever tell you the first time I saw “La La Land” was with Micah?

Avery: Wait what?

Me: Yeah, we didn’t realize it was a romantic comedy until we were watching it. 

Avery: And you saw it in theaters?

Me: Yeah.

Avery: Just the two of you?

Me: Yeah.

Avery: That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life. 

(Y’all don’t need context. Micah, if you’re reading this, I love you and I’m glad we have a solid enough friendship that we were able to go watch a movie musical together and have an intellectual chat afterwards about it without it being a date.)

 

I cannot tell you how many of my cinema friends are going to jump down my throat for writing about this movie, but who cares. I love this movie, maybe even more than I did when I first wrote about it in 2017. I thought it would be interesting to do a revisit to how I felt about this film two years ago. Words in bold are the ones I wrote in 2017, which have not been altered in any way. The writing in italics are from my 2019 self. Enjoy!

 

January 7, 2017

La La Land is a mean movie. It’s a beautiful piece of film, has catchy tunes, really fun dancing, costumes I wish were in my closet, and a wonderful score that I must find the sheet music for. One of my biggest stress relievers is to play through the songs in the easy version of the score I bought for someone else. As someone who doesn’t have a ton of time to practice consistently, it’s nice to have the easy versions of movie scores to sight-read. THE ENDING THOUGH WAS AWFUL. Okay, maybe awful isn’t the correct word. It ended how real life usually goes, which, sometimes, can be awful even in good circumstances. “Awful” was how I always used to describe the end of this film. Let’s see if I still feel that way. 

Some many people I know loved this film. Many of the posts in my Facebook feed have been the praises of La La Land and how it was so inspiring. It’s true; it is an inspiring film. Two people fall in love with each other and believe in each other’s dreams. They push each other to be better. They fight for each other’s goals. But the thing is, they don’t fight for each other. I didn’t get the idealistic/hopeless romantic ending I wanted. Here’s the thing about this movie: it is not about the love of two people. This film is a love letter to Los Angeles. While there is a depiction of a year long relationship, the story is  more so about the two lovers chasing their dreams, not each other. 

The montage that Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s characters have at the end of the movie of “what could have been” caused a huge stir of emotions. At the forefront of these emotions was what was happening right in front of me. These two, fictional people both had their own dream worlds, or La La Lands, where they both achieved greatness and kept the romantic bond between them. If they had made different choices throughout their life, sure, they could have ended up together at the end of the movie like how probably 95% of the audience wanted them to. Probably not 95%, but you get the idea.  Instead though, she pursued her acting career, got married to a caring husband and had a beautiful little girl, and he finally opened his pure jazz club, which is hugely successful and brought the fulfillment he was looking for. They’re lives are both good, but they let go of the relationship in order to chase dreams. 

I have my goals and dreams. Do I want to achieve them? Of course. As the credits started to roll though, I began to think of how one day, I will be parting ways with the people I love so much now. Take Doc (Micah; I used code names for my friends when I was writing in this document because I was paranoid someone would read it), who came to the movie with me after a lot of bickering over why I was willing to go to Lee’s Summit to ride out with him so we could talk instead of just driving to Kansas myself. Avery and I joke that my love language is “quantity time.” He’s one of the most brilliant people I know (still true), and one of the people I love most in my life. Come this Fall though, we’re going to part way. I went to St. Joseph, Missouri to study theatre at Missouri Western. He moved to New York City to study at King’s College. Doc is going to be extremely successful no matter what he ends up doing, but it hurts to think that I most likely won’t be as close to him as I am now to watch him succeed. 

The people I hold dear won’t always be there. My friends and I, we’re all growing up. We’re all gonna go to different colleges. We all have different dreams, and those dreams aren’t intertwined with other people. Correction: dreams are always intertwined with other people. They just might not be the ones that you think they are. Our goals are for ourselves, no one else, and that’s okay. God gave us all the drive to do our best at whatever we do. It hurts though to think about life without these people. The countless coffee runs, the banter and teasing, the walks, the laughs, the jam sessions; one day, those will be fond memories that we’ll tell our kids about. But will be all be together 20 years from now? Chances are, no, and it really, really sucks to dwell on. This used to be something that I would dwell on a lot and honestly really didn’t come to peace with until a few months ago. 

Which is why I will do my best not to dwell on it. See above; I wasn’t super successful with that. I will continue to encourage my friends in theirs dreams. If I can help them reach their goals, I’ll do everything I can to assist. If there’s an opportunity to tell one of them that they are so valued and loved, you bet I’ll take every chance I can to do so. I want to try and stick by Dickinson’s words in reference to the “nows”. I was referring to a poem by Emily Dickinson which says, “Forever – is composed of Nows.” Focusing on how life will change someday will absolutely ruin the fleeting time I have left. You can’t be stuck in your La La Land: the real world never works out exactly how you want it to, and that’s okay. 

Man, I really love my friends. 

Alright, two years later. I love this film still, and I love the people that were in my life in 2017. However, as I predicted, most of them are not in my life anymore. Sure, we float in and out of each other’s lives on a rare occasion, but my core group of friends now is very different from what it was in high school. I’ve become a new Abby. Not necessarily a different one, but an older and somewhat wiser one. I’ve learned to not have a death grip on relationships. I used to get very upset when faced with the fact that just about all of the people you encounter in your lifetime will not remain there forever. While yes, it is perfectly normal to grieve the loss of a relationship, this does not mean that you have tight fists on relationships or circumstances. If you spend too much time and energy on your current situation, you may find that you were blinded to a new path that is 100x better than what you already have. 

If you find that a relationship you thought was going to last a lifetime ends, an opportunity you really wanted falls through, or you just feel like life is at a standstill, remember that forever truly is composed of “nows.” Your La La Land dream might not play out like you thought it would, but I think you’ll find what ends up happening is better than your favorite Oscar-snubbed-musical film. It’s easier said than done (believe me, I know), but learn to hold your life with open palms instead of clenched fists. The less time you spend worrying about trying to control your ideal dream the more time you’ll have enjoying your beautiful life. 

 

Until Next Time, 

Abby 

 

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