Great movies always have great lessons within them. So what is the key message from La La Land? Here's a hint: it has nothing to do with romance.
I grew up with musicals. My mother introduced me to such classics as My Fair Lady and West Side Story at a very early age. On top of that, my father performed in dozens of musicals in our local community. So I guess it was inevitable that I was going to love musicals too.
City of Stars
Most musicals have two leading characters with a love story intertwined. And of course, La La Land is no exception. But for those who think this movie is a romance, I beg to differ.
Yes, love plays a part in the movie and early on it looks as though this will be the main plot point. But near the end, you understand that romantic attraction had very little to do with the outcome. In reality, it’s the push and motivation from the other person which becomes key.
People Love What Other People are Passionate About
My favorite scene is when Sebastian surprises Mia at their home for a home-cooked dinner. Sebastian has returned unannounced during a break from touring with his pop band. A group which performs a musical style very different from his true passion: jazz.
While this looks to be a beautiful reunion, things quickly turn into an argument. Mia, a struggling actress, challenges Sebastian's choice of staying with a band whose music he doesn't enjoy. There is a lot of tension that develops in this scene and I think many of us can relate with the dialog. At one point in our life, we’ve all done something because we think that's what someone else wants.
It's in this scene that we realize how well Mia knows Sebastian. She challenges him by asking why he remains with the band instead of pursuing his dream. We see how a caring individual can unearth questions that the other may have ignored (or buried away).
Maybe I'm Not Good Enough
Later, the roles are reversed as Sebastian goes out of his way to convince Mia to attend yet another audition. She is visibly shaken and does not want to go through with it. She has been turned down so many times before and questions her ability to withstand one more disappointment.
Sebastian does everything he can to convince her that she’s good enough and should continue with her passion. In one of the most memorable lines he declares, “This is the dream! It's conflict and it's compromise, and it's very, very exciting!”
The pursuit of Mia and Sebastian’s careers seem to be a minor plot point at the beginning of the film. But their passions soon become the most significant part of the story. They do have each other to thank for helping make their dreams come true. But it wasn’t because of their romance. It was because of their ability to push one another when times were tough.
Another Day of Sun
Of course, life is not like a musical. I do like to sporadically get up and sing from time to time. But you won’t see me dancing in public (or in private) anytime soon.
Passion for something can take you a long way. But we all need a little push to help get there in the end.
Question: How have people pushed you closer to reaching your dreams? Leave your answer in the comments below.