Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan
La La Love
As a beautiful tribute to the golden age of American musicals, La La Land is full of charm, even when it languishes a little. The music is lovely; the production design is colorful and sensuously appealing. Remarkably interpreted by a couple of extraordinary talent (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in particular) who give their characters more depth and emotion than is on the paper, this film succeeds in not being mere entertainment.
Indeed, it distracts and enchants, yet evokes several themes throughout its narrative. Although it is not always coherent, at least it is done with finesse.
A major theme is that of identity: in a song at the beginning, Mia tells her desire to “find” herself. What is more important: the opinion of others or the conviction that moves us internally?
The focus of the film is the agony of two struggling artists pursuing their dreams in “La La Land” — that place where “they worship everything, and they value nothing.” (i.e. Hollywood)
Mia is an aspiring actress struggling through disappointing auditions for small parts in TV shows and mediocre dramas. Sebastian is a jazz pianist who dreams of opening his own club, though he currently pays the bills playing Christmas carols in a restaurant.
The Constant rejection, the distressing feeling of going nowhere, are those moments of private anxiety when you ask yourself: Did I make the wrong choice? Am I any good at this? And then you just lift yourself up and continue on fighting and to do the thing you love.
La La Land is also the portrait of a contemporary couple, in which the desire to pursue her dream, his career, can put at risk an authentic relationship. But how beautiful it is to see that the loving trust of another can help us to overcome our hardship and anxieties and lead us to give the best of ourselves, to reach the unreachable stars!
The screenwriter wanted to avoid a romantic ending and be “modern” by emphasizing that to achieve a successful career, while maintaining a solid couple relationship is almost impossible in our world.
What saddens us at the end is that Mia had the opportunity to choose otherwise. At the farewell on the bench overlooking the city, we feel that Sebastian hopes that she will finally fill the vacuity of her desire to live an artistic dream and that she will be happy to build something with him. Though, he feels that she should arrive at this decision deep down in her heart.
Their love was authantic in that each one believed in the other more than himself. Somehow, Mia will only realize this by listening to Sebastian playing at the end, when she becomes aware of the irreversibility of the fundamental choices in life. The last smile exchanged between Sebastian and Mia does not completely erase the disappointment we experience deep within ourselves that another end was possible.
Reflecting on what genuine love is and what threatens it, La La Land helps to ask right questions and also imaginative questions of a contemporary couple.
"Does eternal love exist? Is it possible to love someone your whole life?”
From a human point of view, the eternal love seems impossible. In our century where everything is replaced and thrown without any hesitation; where the smartphones and the computers have an average duration of three years; where we are told that during our lifetime we’ll each take up at least three different professions; where friends are rarely cherished for always and where the commitments succeed one other and are not alike -- we are inclined to believe that it will be the same with love.
Surely the love will encounter the same fate, becoming a "La La Love," if we rely solely on our own understanding and capabilities, living and loving without God!
Is not God the One who believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves? Is not God the One who teaches us how to love?
It is not because we want to love that we know how to love. It is God who reveals to us what real love is: “This is real love — not that we loved God, but that He loved us.” (1 John 4:10)
If we want to know what real love is, we must know the Love Himself (1 John 4:8); know Him not in the purely intellectual way but experience with heart, intelligence, will and sensibility. Hence the great and foremost commandment: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind" (Luke 10:27) and you will know how to love others!