Synopsis: A musical drama, the film features struggling artists Sebastian and Mia who haphazardly meet then fall in love. He dreams of owning a jazz club in Los Angeles. She wants to be a big, Hollywood movie star. Can they maintain their relationship while in pursuit of career happiness?
Warning: Spoilers in Presentation
Welcome to "Conscious Movie Reviews." I'm your host, Joy Davis, and here to review the musical drama, "La La Land."
Set in sunny Los Angeles, Sebastian Wilder and Mia Dolan initially meet under rude circumstances, first in congested highway traffic where he loudly honks out of road rage to pass Mia's car, and then again at her workplace where she works as a barista on the Warner Brothers movie set lot. Sebastian bumps into her, spilling his coffee all over her white shirt, right before she rushes to leave for an audition. It was one of many auditions that did not go well.
Both start off as struggling artists: Mia an aspiring actress and Sebastian, a jazz pianist who dreams of opening his own jazz club in town.
The use of the four seasons to tell their story helped to show the cyclical and rhythmic nature of both their love relationship and creative cycles.
Winter is a time where we naturally go inward and feel more sensitive, explains Dr. Elson Haas, author of "Staying Healthy with the Seasons." Sebastian gave Mia a taste of that when they met again for the third time. He very rudely brushed her off, just as she was about to profess that she liked his performance. He was deeply frustrated by the musical constraints placed on him by the restaurant boss to only go with his playlist. When he freed himself to do improvisational jazz, Sebastian was fired immediately.
They meet again in the Springtime under better circumstances. At a pool party, Mia recognized Sebastian performing on an electronic keyboard for an 80's pop cover band, so she requested that they play "I Ran (So Far Away)" by A Flock of Seagulls. Mia danced for his attention.
When they did get a chance to walk and talk, the beautiful scene before them was of Los Angeles bathed in the lush colors of dusk. It was breathtaking and too irresistible, so they tap danced and sang. They were interrupted by a call from Mia's boyfriend, Greg.
Spring brings forth renewal, encouraging you to come out for dance and play. This is a time to flow with its birthing energies that feels like a new spark and power. You can more naturally birth your ideas and inspirations during this season.
Sebastian shared his passion for traditional jazz. He was a purist with a love for the classic music played by the masters.
She admitted to him, "I hate jazz. When I listen to it, I don't like it."
Mia came to intellectually understand the improvisational nature of pure jazz that is a musical exchange of conflict and compromise to birth a new piece with each performance. She just didn't have a heartfelt understanding of it.
Sebastian was open to Mia's attempts at being a playwright and her romanticized love of the Golden Age of Hollywood. She was a traditionalist, like him. He understood the illusions cast by the town as a dream factory - a promised land that lures hopefuls each year who dream of fame, wealth and glamour.
"They worship everything and value nothing," he explained.
When Sebastian proposed a date with Mia to watch the film classic, "Rebel Without a Cause," she completely forgot all about her dinner plans with Greg and his brother when he suddenly showed up at her apartment. During the meal, Mia hastily abandoned him at the restaurant. She preferred to be with Sebastian at the old movie house. They watched the film until a technical glitch stopped it short.
Their romantic interlude continued at Griffith Park Observatory where they floated towards the dome, dancing to a brilliant constellation of stars, planets and clouds.
Between them, there was a dreamy quality to their relationship. They were caught up in the idealistic throes of early romance and alchemy that is a magical dance of the powers of transformation to create something new. According to Anaiya Sophia and Padma Prakasha, experts on Sacred Relationships, they teach that true alchemy is both fiery and tender at the same time. Work can become unified with our highest purpose and passion. It all flows together in a joyous and satisfying alchemical dance. We discover our gifts and give them to the world. This is our work, our soul's mission.
By Summer, they spent lots of romantic time together enjoying the famous sites of L.A. and doing their Dance of Creation and Creativity. To encourage Sebastian's dream of owning his own jazz club, Mia showed him her hand-drawn design of what his company logo could look like. She suggested it be called SEB'S.
While at the Van Beek jazz club where Sebastian performs, Mia was introduced to his high school classmate, Keith. He was offered a lucrative job to be the keyboardist for his new jazz band, "The Messengers." Sebastian resisted their style of playing because it deviated from the classics, appealing to the public's love of pop music. Keith was more forward thinking to recreate jazz for the new generation.
Sebastian was given the potential of evolving his creativity to become an Experimental Innovator, like Keith. He would have to go down a different creative course to follow a vague and elusive goal of becoming an artistic revolutionary. Even though it went against the grain of Sebastian's basic nature, which is to be a traditionalist and purist in a conservative, musical sense, he signed with "The Messengers" anyway to make albums and tour nationwide. Sebastian assumed that Mia wanted him to take the offer because it was a steady career.
The months apart while Sebastian toured took a toll on Mia. She lived a lonely existence in his apartment, diligently working on her play that was a one-woman show called "So Long Boulder City." When he did return briefly, their conversation would erupt into an argument. Mia complained that he abandoned his dream of opening a jazz club.
Out of brute honesty, Sebastian shot back to say, "You like me when I'm down because you feel better about yourself..."
Mia recognizes Sebastian as a true artist of growing mastery. He lives and breathes his craft, committed with his whole being to the creative process, whereas she is not. She'd prefer that they be on equal ground in a state of artistic struggle and misery. His well-earned, rising success leaves her feeling behind.
As a non-working actress, Mia suffered from repressed creative energy and insecurity to become needy for Sebastian's support. When he asks that Mia tour with him for a few days before her play premieres, she turned him down as proof that she's not emotionally available to support him.
The challenges to their relationship reflected Summer as the season of growth and maturation. It has a fiery quality to fuel the energies of creativity, intuition and motion. This is the time to take action in carrying out your ideas and new ventures.
On the opening night of Mia's play, Sebastian had forgotten his band's commitment to do a photo shoot. When she scanned the audience, there was hardly anyone attending - mostly her close friends and the curious, but no Sebastian. Two strangers commented within earshot about how her performance sucked, sinking Mia's confidence to low levels.
When Sebastian arrived to apologize, she had already given up. Six years of rejection and self-embarrassment in Los Angeles was too much. She headed back home to Boulder City, Nevada.
Mia is like many who pursue their dreams by relying on a chance encounter, hoping to get noticed by someone who'll give them that lucky, big break - similar to the odds of winning the lottery. A better way is working towards true mastery of your craft. The difference is that when you build your skills to be a master, it is like forging a steel of confidence that gets stronger with more practice. Masters are revered and emulated - a source of inspiration for many. By choosing mastery, Mia could take her acting skills anywhere in the world because her self-worth would be so genuinely powerful that even those in her industry would take notice that she had gone way beyond her natural talent to be extraordinary.
During the Fall, Sebastian received a call for Mia about an upcoming audition. They've considered her for a part after seeing her one-woman play. This was an opportunity he wanted for her, so he headed for Colorado to revive Mia's dream. She relented by going back to L.A. with him and try out. Mia was hired. The film would be shot in Paris, requiring a 7-month commitment from her.
As Fall relates to harvest time, Mia was finally reaping what she had sown for years that was a mix of creative effort and cultivating her field of intent to be a movie star.
Five years later, Mia returned to L.A. as a successful actress with her husband and toddler. On date night, they discovered a jazz club that read Seb's. Mia recognized the familiar name and logo design.
When they seated themselves for the performance, Sebastian played for Mia their cherished love theme. They both imagined an idyllic life together of living out their dreams and having domestic bliss. Although, it was not meant to be. They chose to stay "hitched to the stars," just floating in possibilities without the grounding of a pragmatic life together.
By music's end, Mia met Sebastian's gaze, then left.