“La La Land” is magnificent, from its ambitious eye-candy opening on the L.A. Freeway to its final plucked piano key. And while this film is worlds apart tonally from Damien Chazelle’s previous film “Whiplash”, the two are surprisingly connected when it comes to characters with a passion for music. But for all the song and dance, perhaps the most pivotal moment of the entire film is one of complete silence.
There’s always a love story, and “La La Land” is no exception. While the two main characters are a couple of dreamers(one wants to act, the other a musician who wants to open a jazz club), the topic that pushes the plot forward(and triggers the next musical number) is the budding romance between them. But their dreams just won’t go away, and they keep knocking louder at the back of their minds. This ends up being the ultimate test for the couple. Their passion for each other definitely has to compete with their passion to see their dreams realized.
The film’s final scene involves a song(of course), and the initial melody is a throwback to when the two first met. Sebastian and Mia once again find themselves in a dimly lit Los Angeles joint. Once again, she’s looking on as he sits behind the piano. However, before Sebastian starts to revisit a single note from that fateful piece, he hesitates. Five years has now passed; while it might feel like a small lifetime for the two, the silence tells another story. All of Mia and Sebastian’s history exists in that very instant, and in this breathtaking moment he finds it hard to play the piece he knows so well. The silence is deafening and overwhelming; in that subtle pause is a lifetime of emotion.
“La La Land” packs a surprising amount of humor and seems to charm with great ease, which makes it worthy of all its praise and attention this awards season. But the film’s final scene is its bread and butter, and makes it one of the great movie moments of this year or last. It stands apart without a catchy song or set piece, and gives the film a depth beyond the vibrant scenery and flashy choreography. Sebastian’s moment of reflection is heart-wrenching and significant, and is one of the best cinematic choices to grace the big screen in quite some time. “La La Land” is certainly a whimsical place, but it is a grounded one as well.