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Films reflect our moods. Sometimes they inform us more about ourselves. At other moments, they become our refuge in the pitch-black darkness of a theatre. Cinema sometimes ceases to be just about entertainment. It travels far and beyond and can have a rippling effect in our often insular lives.
La La Land was able to achieve all of that if not more. It uplifted our moods and transported us into a magical world. The movie brought alive, quite vividly, the dying concepts of old-world romance and delusions of a dream, making it big in a big city on screen. Critics have cited La La Land as an ode to old, classic Hollywood romantic movies. Still, La La Land goes beyond symbolism. It’s not just about an endeavour to revive old Hollywood musicals.
As the Oscars night nears to celebrate the best cinema, there has been a spurt in criticism toward La La Land. Some critics have cited it as too shallow and feeble to win Best Picture award. There are eight other movies nominated in Best Picture category- Arrival, Fences, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Lion, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight and Hacksaw Ridge. All of them are a brilliant depiction of myriad human emotions. Yet, La La Land glitters and shines more than any other Best Picture nominee.
For a first, La La Land isn’t a story of a certain kind of people. It’s not set in certain time period either. The freedom from those compulsions has given La La Land limitless possibilities. Like all brilliant movies, La La Land’s achievement comes from its ability to have different meanings for different individuals. Its immediate malleability makes it a league apart from other competing movies in the same category. What also sets it apart, is its mood of a very bright, dreamy world.
It’s a story about heartbreak and scars of success but doesn’t let you find out that until the very end. For most of the time, you are floating in its meticulously woven dream land. As a viewer, you are hovering in the endless sky of dreams and never wanting to come back to reality.
However, to tag La La Land as a mere Hollywood romance would be a grave mistake. For one can plunge into its simplicity and come out with many complex issues and matters of our times. On the surface level, La La Land is a story of two dreamers who fall in love and eventually go along different paths to achieve their individual dreams. However, at a closer look, it reverberates the spirit of an American dream that suddenly seems distant and impossible post a change in political regime in the US.
A recent spurt in hate crime against immigrants and racist attacks in the country make it suddenly difficult to imagine America as a land of dreams. For years, US has been a safe and preferred destination for people who came to the country with nothing but sheer amount of talent and a bag full of dreams. The country’s very identity originated from its generosity to talent and individualism above class, creed and colour. For years, it celebrated talent and provided a safe place for those who had some of it. The same can’t be said anymore given the short-sightedness of its new political regime.
La La Land, above all, is a celebration of the immense possibility of having and nurturing a dream inside our hearts. It shows us what happens when you dare to dream and give your all to have that dream fulfilled. It revels in the glory of talent and artistic expression. It’s trying to say a very simple thing that a human being is a mere expression of his work and talent. The movie takes us to a place where men and women are able to weave magic with their sheer talent. That a man’s identity is solely dependent on his talent and hard work rather than race, colour, religion or creed.
La La Land doesn’t shy away to sideline ‘love’ in the way of one’s ambition. Only a true American movie could have done that. At a time when a sudden change in atmosphere in the country is threatening the possibility of achieving a dream for many individuals, La La Land makes a point. It generously pushes one to keep dreaming and working toward achieving that dream. It’s a true gift for difficult times ahead.