• Kathy Copcutt

La La Land


On a crowded Los Angeles highway in winter ("Another Day of Sun"), Mia (Emma Stone), an on-studio barista and aspiring actress, is distracted by her preparation for an upcoming audition, which leads to a slight moment of road rage between her and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist. Her audition is spoiled when her outfit is stained by a coffee spill from a customer at work. At the same time, Sebastian is having problems paying his bills, leading to an argument with his live-in sister, Laura (Rosemary DeWitt) before going to his next gig at a restaurant. That night, Mia’s three roommates, in an attempt to cheer her up, invite her to a lavish party downtown ("Someone in the Crowd"). When Mia’s car gets towed, she is forced to walk back to her apartment.

Meanwhile, Sebastian is instructed by the restaurant’s owner, Bill (J.K. Simmons), to not play any jazz. While playing simple variations of Christmas songs, he slips into a passionate improvisation, which is overheard by Mia walking past the restaurant, and she enters to watch him play, moved by his talent. Sebastian is fired for his disobedience. Mia attempts to compliment his playing, but in his frustration, he coldly passes her. Months later, Mia is at another party and notices Sebastian again, now playing as the keyboardist for a 1980’s pop cover band. She playfully irks him by requesting the band to play I Ran (So Far Away) by A Flock of Seagulls. After the gig, Mia finds Sebastian and the two of them walk together to find their cars. They both lament over being in each other’s company, despite the clear chemistry between them ("A Lovely Night").

One day, Sebastian finds Mia at work, and decides to take her out to a jazz bar, explaining his intense love for jazz and his aspirations of running his own jazz bar, as well as reinforcing her passion as an actress. They begin to warm up to each other ("City of Stars"). After Sebastian asks her out to a screening of Rebel Without a Cause at a local theater, one of her roommates sets up a double date with her and Greg (Finn Wittrock). Mia decides to blow off her date with Sebastian, but when she can’t connect with Greg, she abruptly leaves and rushes to the theater, just managing to find Sebastian as the movie starts. After the projector jams, Mia and Sebastian finish their date at the Griffith Observatory and dance ("Planetarium").

Mia, after several more failed auditions, decides to write a personal single-actress play, “Goodbye, Boulder City,” hoping it will propel her to stardom, and Sebastian becomes a regular performer at the jazz bar, and after several dates, they finally move in together. One night, Sebastian is reunited with a high school classmate, Keith (John Legend), who offers him a chance to be the keyboardist in his jazz band, "The Messengers," which offers a high pay. Sebastian accepts, but is dismayed when he discovers the band’s more pop-oriented sound. Keith chides him for staying stuck in the past and urges him and his music to move forward. Mia attends one of their first concerts, but is left bemused, knowing that Sebastian would never enjoy playing that type of music ("Start a Fire"). On the night before the band’s first tour, Mia confronts Sebastian about this, and he coldly tells her that it’s the only way he can make money while criticizing her for lack of success as an actress. Insulted, Mia leaves and moves into the theater she’s producing her play at.

On the show’s opening night, Sebastian fails to show up due to an impromptu photo shoot with the band. Regardless, Mia’s show flops badly, receiving a poor reception from the handful of people in attendance. Devastated and hurt, Mia breaks up with Sebastian and moves in with her parents in Boulder City, Nevada. One night, Sebastian receives a call at the apartment from a casting director who attended Mia’s play and enjoyed it, inviting her for a film audition the following morning. Sebastian rushes to Mia’s parents’ home to pick up Mia. Despite Mia claiming she’s not cut out for acting, Sebastian gives her until the morning to make up her mind, which she eventually does. Due to the avant-garde nature of the film, Mia simply has to tell a story for her audition, which has her tell about her aunt who lived in Paris, where the film is being set ("Audition"). Mia is nervous about the audition, but Sebastian is wholly confident that she will land the role.

Five years later, Mia is now a famous actress, and she is contently married to another man and has a baby girl with him. One night, they both are both going out on a date, and when they make a detour due to heavy traffic, she notices “Seb’s,” the jazz bar Sebastian had always dreamed of opening, and convinces her husband for them to go in. After one of the songs ends, Sebastian, having since left The Messengers, introduces himself and is about to play a song, but recognizes Mia in the crowd. As he plays, Mia and Sebastian imagine a completely different life with each other, including Sebastian declining Keith’s offer of joining his band and moving to Paris with Mia after she lands her audition, where they can both continue their passions and start a family of their own. The song ends, and Mia’s husband asks to leave to make their engagement. Mia and Sebastian share a smile, happy for each other for the dreams they have achieved.

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Release date: December 9, 2016

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