Not to be Captain Obvious, but this post contains spoilers for the movie La La Land.
Last night I took my mom to see La La Land, because we both love dancing and old Hollywood and all that jazz (ha!), and I thought we’d be seeing a magical sort of show with a modern twist. I did not expect us to both be depressed and in dire need of a cocktail afterwards.
The movie is beautiful. The sets (and the sets on the sets) and Emma Stone’s wardrobe (I want ALL of her dresses) and the singing and the dancing and all the effects, just gorgeous. It’s whimsical, both in its love story and in its occasional dream-like scenes. Then comes the epilogue.
The movie follows Mia, a barista on the WB lot who wants to be an actress, and Sebastian, a jazz pianist who wants to own his own club. Mia goes to audition after audition for terrible sounding TV shows, and Sebastian gets fired from a gig playing Christmas standards at a restaurant. They’re dreamers stuck in a harsh reality, one that crushes a lot of hopeful souls who flock to the city of stars. Not every dream comes true.
In the midst of their own professional struggles they bump into each other (sometimes literally) so many times they decide it must be fate, and then start seeking each others’ company. I’m honestly not sure what draws Mia to Seb – he’s super rude to her on the first few occasions, and then after they do start hanging out he’s so pretentious I wanted to puke into my popcorn. To be fair I tend to be biased against musicians (my romantic past is littered with them), but the way he berated her for saying she didn’t like jazz just turned me off. I came around in the end, mostly due to his unwavering support of Mia’s dream and his constant enthusiastic encouragement, but I would’ve ran the opposite way at first.
They meet, they dance, they fall in love. Mia, on Seb’s suggestion, stops auditioning and starts working on a play, a one-woman show. Seb, on his assumption of what Mia wants from him, joins a group of musicians led by John Legend (not playing himself) that claims to be playing modern jazz, jazz for young people who would never listen to jazz. It’s very Uptown Funk-y. But it’s not at all what Mia thought Seb wanted to be playing. It also means he has to tour, and miss her one-woman show (which is one-night only) for band business. Seb’s not the only one not in the audience for Mia’s show, there are roughly half a dozen audience members, a turnout so low she can’t even pay the theatre back for using their stage.
She leaves LA, and Sebastian, to go home and figure out where to go from there. But one of the few attendees happened to be a casting agent who loved her, and wants her to audition for a movie, which Sebastian has to drive to Nevada to convince Mia to do. When she ends up getting the role, they discuss their relationship and the outcome is “we’ll see.”
That’s when i started to get mad.
The big fight Mia and Sebastian have that heralds the end of their relationship is about Sebastian giving up his dream to just make money, to have a steady gig, while Mia is working towards her own. He’s gone all the time, and he’s not even making music that he loves. When Mia leaves, Seb takes all of her advice to heart. In the end, they both fulfill their dreams. Mia is a movie star and Sebastian has his own club.
But they’re not together. There’s a “five years later” epilogue to the movie where we get to see them in their new careers, and it’s heartbreaking. Mia is married with a child (and omg the fact that they cast Tom Everett Scott as her husband was hilarious to me – I literally could not stop picturing him as Guy Patterson all grown up – oh you want good jazz?). Her and her husband chance upon Sebastian’s club, and after Seb spots her in the crowd he plays their song on the piano. It’s haunting, and it becomes the score to a what-if style montage of how things could have worked out between Mia and Sebastian.
I WAS FURIOUS.
For a whimsical movie that has its stars falling in love and dancing amongst the stars, it chose the realistic ending? Why not give us the true romance happily ever after? Why have them be the catalyst for the other person realizing their dreams (Mia wouldn’t have known about the movie audition without Seb, Seb would have tried to wait out the wrong venue and use the wrong club name if it wasn’t for Mia prodding him to find a new location and use the name Seb’s) and then have them not get back together? They could have worked themselves out before Mia went to shoot her movie, or after. He mentions how good the jazz is in Paris, he could have come along. Why choose realism?
My heart still hurts. I remember turning to my mom afterwards and saying, “This is why people write fan fiction.” Hopefully someone is already working on the “five more years later” sequel where Mia and her husband amicably divorce and share custody of their daughter and Mia and Seb get back together. I’d like 100K of it, at least, thanks. With an accompanying playlist.
Don’t get me wrong, the movie is fabulous. I just wanted a different type of happy ending.
Oh, and I kind of get the Ryan Gosling thing now. He finally got me.
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