La La Land’s not so happy ending

Maddie Ward, multimedia editor

I am all for fairytale endings, where two people fall in love and they live happily ever after; yet the movie La La Land’s unhappy ending is what captivated me about the film as whole. While the romantic relationship may have seemed to be the focal point of the production, the passions of both Mia and Sebastian are what carried the film and made it work.

Throughout the musical movie there are hints that the couple will not be together in the end. La La Land  opens with the musical number, “Another Day of Sun” which tells the story of a girl pursuing her dream of being an actress, which eventually leads to her leaving her significant other. This parallels the film itself in which Mia ends up leaving Sebastian because of an acting job opportunity she receives. The song also tells of a man who is desperately in love with music and will not let anything stand in his way because his passion is so strong, which seems incredibly similar to Sebastian and his undying love for jazz music. Another hint is dropped in the first song Mia and Sebastian sing together,“A Lovely Night”. While the song may be sarcastic, the two are letting each other know that, “there’s not a spark in sight,” and that they are “frankly feeling nothing,” for each other. The last major hint dropped is when Mia tells Sebastian that she doesn’t like jazz, which may seem like a foolish reason to end a relationship, but jazz is Sebastian’s whole world.

Both Mia and Sebastian are shown working on their craft in their first scenes of the film. Mia is shown practicing lines, hoping that her passion for acting will carry her to actual success, and Sebastian is shown listening to tapes of jazz piano, so he can further his knowledge of the genre. Each individual enters the film with a goal, Mia’s is becoming a successful actress and Sebastian’s is opening a jazz club. While the viewer is usually egging on the main characters to achieve their starting goal by the end of the production, the main focus of the movie is quickly shifted to Mia and Sebastian’s relationship making viewers lose sight of what the pair were originally going after.

The film poses the very important and relevant question of relationship love vs. career love. The ending sequence of the film shows a world, where Mia and Sebastian stayed together and Mia becomes a successful actress, but Sebastian sacrifices his passion and ultimate life goal of opening a jazz club. This alternate universe where Sebastian and Mia are together may seem like a better version of their actual lives, but Sebastian is giving up his entire world for a life with Mia. Their pursuit of a relationship never really hurts Mia’s career, if anything, it saves it because of Sebastian’s persistence in telling Mia how successful she can become if she really works for it. In the end, Sebastian would be giving up his life as a jazz club owner, a life he has been pursuing long before he met Mia, but the film’s focal relationship would still be intact.

Overall, La La Land’s ending may anger or sadden most viewers, but I was in complete awe of the way director Damien Chazelle perfectly ended the film giving Mia and Sebastian what they always truly wanted. La La Land is definitely a love story because it chronicles the relationship of the talented couple, but it should be considered an uplifting film about chasing your passions more than anything else.

Find out which La La Land character you are here.