While everyone else seemed blinded by the beautiful cinematography and romantic nostalgia of the ending of La La Land, I had an overwhelming sense of needing to vomit.
At first, I thought it might have been the fact that I had just devoured an entire bag of Kernels creamy-creamy caramel popcorn that created the sudden feeling of nausea. Putting down the bag of popcorn, which let’s face it is easier said than done, while the tears streamed down by embarrassed face, I realized that my calorie-laden treat wasn’t to blame, instead the ending of La La Land was hitting me harder than any movie had done before. I felt an overwhelming urge to both vomit and run away, a strange reaction to a relatively happy go lucky Christmas musical.
While La La Land is definitely plagued with problems, from the complete lack of any LGBTQ characters to the downright weird monochromatic outfits that the background characters seem to wear (no please don’t get me started on the bridesmaid dresses that Emma Stone’s “young and hip” character choses to wear to parties). The ending to the movie, in which spoilers we see the multiple ways that Stone’s and Gosling’s lives could have played out had they chosen to stay together, hit me like a ton of bricks.
The ending shows just how much of an effect a romantic relationship can have a person’s life. In some realities, Gosling’s character never gets to realize his dream of opening up a jazz club, in other’s they live in a normal household with kids. The realities aren’t ranked; they are presented as a continuous fantasy allowing for the viewer to decide what their personal “best” would be.
As a person who tries not to build her entire life on romantic relationships, who had left boyfriends to live on different continents for years at a time, this really rattled me. Could your romantic relationships really change the course of your life so drastically? Can a choice to be with someone stop you from living out your dreams? And the really scary question, in order to live out your dreams, do you have to sacrifice the person you love?
Maybe my choice to sign up for OkCupid instead of Plenty of Fish will be the reason I have two kids instead of three. Does swiping right twice instead of three times mean that I’m going to live a monotonous life instead of one full of spontaneity? Was it the wrong reason to break up with a boyfriend that is “too nice” to fuck someone, who while more interesting, is “too mean?”
The ending scenes made me reflect on all of these things at once, creating a fight or flight response, which in my case seemed to come out as “awkwardly throw up in public for no reason or run away and leave you friend alone in a theatre”.
Even in a movie filled with magical realism, in the end the leads still couldn’t be together and achieve their dreams, so what does that mean for my world?
A movie that opened up with a traffic jam sunny sing-a-long couldn’t even end with their characters keeping their true loves, if Hollywood couldn’t do it, what hope do I have?