I first really paid attention to La La Land when my friend Heather invited me to go see it. I had seen a few trailers but wasn’t really sure what it was about until I started doing some research. A musical love story about artists set in LA? Why wasn’t I in this?
Once I put my healthy ego down, I realized I had to see it. Cue to 2 months later when I finally had the chance. The SAG Awards are coming up so I’m knee-deep in viewing movies and TV shows that are up for consideration. My La LA Land screener came yesterday and I watched it right away.
I loved it, but not all of it. It’s a very beautiful movie with all the throwbacks to the classic Hollywood musicals like Singin’ in the Rain, A Star is Born, and Guys and Dolls. It looked like these movies, and sounded like these movies, but something was missing. Maybe missing isn’t the right word. It felt like a modern version of a classic film genre.
That’s not a bad thing if that’s what the filmmaker Damien Chazelle was going for. If it was, then he nailed it! For me the most beautiful, touching part of the film was watching Emma Stone’s character, Mia, as she goes on countless, soul-crushing auditions. Soul-crushing because as actors we get our hopes up so much at each audition thinking, this could be the one that changes our career! It’s a ton of pressure.
One part in the film was particularly striking. Mia is in the middle of an audition, she’s clearly connecting with her character, lost in her world, when suddenly a casting assistant barges into the room and it really throws her off. I can honestly say I’ve never had this happen. But I have been in an audition when a guy (a producer maybe) was taking pictures of me with his cell phone while I was performing. And when a director was typing on his computer the whole time.
I’m not sure when it became okay to do things like this to actors. Maybe it’s because we are seemingly at the bottom of the food chain in entertainment, although social media and endorsement deals would have you believe otherwise. I’m learning more and more that actors have almost no power over their career if they just stick to acting alone. Actors can produce, direct or write but if you just coast along as an actor hoping to get discovered without doing anything else you’re in for a long wait.
Even in the film, Mia decides to write her own one-woman show out of a necessity to create and perform. And you know what? That show got her discovered and she booked a huge film role. Even the movies are telling actors, hey start creating your own shit!
That was my takeaway from La La Land. It was a cute musical, but spoke to me as an actress more than anything else. I felt her heartbreak at missing out on a big part, her joy at getting a callback, and her desire to want to create. So all my actor friends and creative types, go see this movie. I think you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement as well as to the beat of the music.
La La Land is in theaters now and stars Ryan Gosling, and Emma Stone. It was written/directed by Damien Chazelle.