“Madness is key to give us new colours to see”

Sneha Mary Christall, II MA English.

I must admit I find musicals a tad disconcerting, with the exception of The Sound of Music and Grease. I inevitably roll my eyes when an actor breaks into song and dance, and quickly lose any interest I had. So the only reason I gave myself for watching La La Land was that it is directed by Damien Chazelle, whose film Whiplash was masterclass (excuse the pun).

For those who have already seen the Emma Stone- Ryan Gosling pairing in Crazy, Stupid Love, La La Land serves as the perfect companion. Gosling’s womanising qualities in Crazy, Stupid Love, are replaced by a dreamy, brooding musician in La La Land. Where Stone rejects Gosling’s advances in CSL, LLL shows Gosling turning her down. But, I digress.

Just one of the film’s subliminal messages that you can pick out is the use of blue and purple tones throughout, lending to its dreamy, whimsical quality. The initial scenes between the leads, Mia and Sebastian, play out seamlessly. So when they break into dance at the car park, it isn’t a waste of “A Lovely Night”, even if they seem to think so.

Perhaps Chazelle’s best decision though, is his underplay of Mia and Sebastian’s chemistry. Rather than building on their inevitable romance, their individual dreams become the focus of the movie. Mia aspires to be an actor while Sebastian believes in jazz. Jazz again is an acquired taste. When Sebastian initiates her into his musical choices, she grows to believe in his dream. Even as he gives up jazz for more commercially viable mainstream music, she doesn’t give up on him. Her acting career picks up when he encourages her to attend one last audition. In the scene where he drives down to her hometown to pick her up, he honks his car in one long protest till she gets in. This probably is a witty dig at the iconic Say Anything scene where Lloyd announces his arrival at Diane’s house with a boombox.

Quite naturally, you root for Mia’a acting career to take off and for Sebastian to begin his jazz club. And when they glide and soar through the Griffith Observatory, you begin to realise that ‘lala’ can only truly exist in song and dance, and the realm of possibility. But if you listen close enough, you can still hear it. La La Land is essentially a love story, Chazelle’s love story with jazz and the old school Hollywood charm of Los Angeles. But most of all, it is a story of hope, and we could always do with more of those.

When my friend and I left the theatre, we felt light and disoriented. We mistook the elevator that went down for the one going up. We took ages to find our parking spot. Maybe part of us was reluctant to leave ‘la la land’, where “madness is key to give us new colours to see”.

[Photo Source: Internet]

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