La La Land

We saw La La Land  mainly out of curiosity about the hype. I can see why it was popular with the film industry, given it was basically Ziegfeld follies with a very slightly updated storyline about the price you pay for ambition. I wouldn’t particularly rate it as a film, as it drags on for too long making little headway with the narrative and seemingly disappearing up its own backside. Only the montage at the end, showing a flashback to a parallel life that never happened, was truly brilliant.

It made me sad, in some strange way; sad that there is so little innovation in the arts, but also sad about art itself. Any artistic endeavour is a very hard life to pursue, and you will always lose things along the way, only more so the more successful you are, which is itself highly unlikely. As the protagonist (who is of course called Sebastian) says:

This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!

I was talking to a distant relative at my grandmother’s funeral, who said he was a musician. He still lived at home with his parents, still waiting to hit the big-time in his mid-30s. He still believed it would happen, and when I said it must be hard financially he said something like, “Well, yeah, I’ll either be poor or I’ll get really rich”. Hmm, yeah, except that even the most successful musicians on the planet are fighting to get paid for their work.

The ending of the film is a huge contrast from the fluffy platitudes and songs, I just somewhat wish it had had more of that sort of innovation all the way through it. I fully expected that at some point they would find success, and then perhaps there’d be some cheesy moral about how happiness is inside you, and you’re no more or less happy if you’re successful. In fact, it delivered the reality check that successful people will often have sacrificed, not compromised, everything that mattered to them in the first place. My life is not the crazy arts world, but it resonated. All of us working parents tell ourselves that we both work because we want to provide a good life for our children, but what if at some point we lose sight of that, and get too caught up in the ego boost that a successful career brings? It’s all passing us by, even as we pay for an expensive ski chalet.

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