Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t like this film. It’s too long, it’s too bright, the songs are forgettable, the dancing is basic, the singing’s mediocre, the storyline is slushy. I literally have no idea why everyone’s throwing Oscars at this puke-inducing schmaltz-fest of feel-good fluff – which is why it almost pains me to admit that I came away having learned a thing or two about life and love.
If you are a miserable grinch with a heart of stone, then you will not like this movie either. Let me spare you the agony of watching Ryan and Emma endlessly twirling through space in beautiful outfits (bleeeuurgh) by sharing these nuggets of wisdom here instead (SPOILER ALERT: turn back now if you don’t want to know the ending!).
1) Follow Your Dreams
We’ve all got one. It’s so easy to get sidetracked by life and bills and place it at the back of the cupboard, out of sight, gathering dust. But you know it’s still there. And if you really have a burning desire within you, then get out there and chase it. And keep chasing it. Because nothing comes of nothing – at least you can say you tried.
Your dream may seem ridiculously unattainable, but everybody who’s a somebody was once a nobody – we all have to start somewhere. If the opportunities don’t present themselves to you, create your own. In the movie, Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, gets tired of not being cast in anything she auditions for – so she writes her own one-woman play. Make your own luck.
2) Don’t Quit (Dreams Can Take a While to Come True)
Perseverance is the real key to achieving your goals – success doesn’t happen overnight. So often it’s not the best who make it to the top: it’s the ones who keep going while everyone else gives up along the way.
Mia is working in Starbucks when we first meet her, and has been trying to hit the big time for six years. But she battles through all the knockbacks and keeps on going – even when it gets tough. Even when it seems hopeless. Even when she doubts her own abilities. She gets up, dusts herself off, and tries again.
Don’t be disheartened by naysayers; stick with it and take every opportunity that comes your way. You never know – that next one might be your lucky break.
3) Surround Yourself With Positive People
Mia meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a struggling musician with hopes of opening his own jazz club. Two crazy people with two crazy dreams, they fall in love and become each other’s biggest fans, championing their partner’s visions all the way.
They keep each other on track when they start to drift off course; they share words of encouragement as well as ideas; they support each other when they start to lose heart – all of which feeds into their subsequent success. I had a boss who laughed at me when I told him I didn’t want to do what I was doing forever. That one simple act had a profound effect. I often wonder what might have happened if he’d responded in a positive way at that point in my life. Things might have been very different.
Our dreams are fragile and precious, and our words are so powerful: never underestimate the impact they can have. Find people who believe in you to shore you up and propel you towards your goals, and in the same way, support and encourage others on the same path. Wouldn’t you rather be remembered as someone who fuelled their dreams, rather than tore them down?
4) Success Comes at a Cost
Achieving our dreams involves blood, sweat and tears, and endless effort and frustration. You will spend lots of time working alone in the dark, surviving on coffee and toast, feverishly plotting to take over the world – ahem, or whatever your dream might be.
If you are serious about achieving your dreams, then you’ll have to make them your priority. And when you make them your priority, you’ll have to make sacrifices. Mia and Sebastian put their heart and soul into achieving their dreams – but they lose each other along the way. Which brings us nicely to my last lesson…
5) The Love of Your Life May Not Last a Lifetime
Their perfect romance doesn’t even make it to the credits. You’d have bet your house on it – yet five years’ later, Sebastian’s all alone, and Mia is married to someone else, with a daughter to boot. And guess what? She’s happy as Larry and blissfully unaware of Sebastian’s existence.
It’s refreshing to see a movie where a couple’s ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t involve them ending up together – not every relationship is supposed to last forever. And the fact that it ended doesn’t mean that it ‘failed’. Their union helped them achieve their goals; perhaps that was all it was ever supposed to do.
It’s good to be reminded that ‘the one’ doesn’t really exist: there are lots of ‘ones’ for all of us, and ‘the one’ you’re with might turn out to be ‘the one for now’. And that’s okay – there’s always ‘another one’ round the corner.
Some people are only meant to be in our lives for a season. Perhaps they cross our paths to help us heal or learn a lesson or grow – or, as in this case, fulfil our dreams. But these fleeting encounters can be the making of us – so embrace them in their entirety, and enjoy the memories. For as La La Land ultimately concludes, ‘tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.