I started the movie “La La Land” (better late than never!) thinking it would be the perfect happy-ending comedy to watch on a Sunday night. I was wrong. by the end of the movie, I was drenched with tears. I thought to myself: “Thanks God I didn’t go to the theater to watch it!”. Instead, I watched it two years after it went out, on a Sunday night, lying on my couch and wearing hideous PJs. Maybe the fact that I was alone made me feel safer about crying so much. I was ridiculously affected.
So let’s talk about it. Why did the ending scene of “La La Land” break my heart so much?
Here’s the end of the movie as described by a Cinemablend’s article, (that article, by the way, was the proof that I wasn’t the only one feeling so affected by that scene):
“By time we get to the end of La La Land, Mia has taken an acting job in France and Sebastian is starting to get his own jazz club off the ground. Admitting they’ll always love each other, we jump ahead five years to see the future of this lovely couple, who have already been going through some rough times after a particularly upsetting dinner argument, among other incidents. We find out that Mia is not only a successful actress as she’d always dreamed, but she’s also married and has a daughter with said husband. Doing pretty well for themselves and going out for a date night, the couple stop into a particularly interesting night spot: Sebastian’s club.
Upon seeing Mia in the audience, Sebastian plays the theme that’s represented the couple throughout the whole film, fantasizing what their lives would have been like if he’d done everything right. In his dream, he doesn’t push past Mia upon their first meeting, makes it to her one woman show, and is the perfect, supportive man she deserves. They get married, have their own child, and end up going to that same jazz club- in a mirror universe version of what could have been.
As Sebastian plays the last, sad notes of the theme, Mia and her husband leave. With her husband out the door, she looks back one last time to see Sebastian, and looks with on mournfully. Catching her eye, Sebastian smiles wistfully in understanding, and Mia reciprocates. She leaves, and he continues to entertain his patrons, as we’re told in a plain as day title card, “The End.”
That whole scene was gut-wrenching. As I read “the End” on the screen, I couldn’t stop crying, thinking it couldn’t be that way. It couldn’t end that way.
In order to understand what it was all about, I researched what the director, Damien Chazelle, said about the end of his movie. Chazelle said that “[the ending scene] was kind of an acknowledgement that life doesn’t always completely live up to the perfect version that we have in our heads, but that that’s OK”. Moreover, Emma Stone added: ” we’ve all had that moment in our lives — the road not taken, the moment we turned left when we could have turned right.”
But the acknowledgement that life doesn’t always completely live up to the perfect version that we have in our heads is not OK for me. It breaks my heart. La La Land’s ending scene broke my heart so deeply, that I realized my emotions weren’t directed at Mia and Sebastian not ending up together, but at my own fear to turn left when I should have turned right.
La La Land’s ending mirrored my deepest fear: missing my destiny, losing someone I love, making a choice that would change the course of my life, and make me miss the best scenario, the one that could have represented my life.
I am deeply afraid that the ideal scenario of my life would be trapped between brackets, and played whenever looking in the eyes of a loved one that was lost, whose face would make me imagine what could have happened, if things had been different.
It already happened to all of us, bumping into a ghost from the past and imagining what could have been our life, if our choices had been different. If circumstances had been different. An ex-boyfriend that we miss, a friend that we’ve lost. It is one of the saddest feelings. This feeling, that I felt so vividly when watching the end of La La Land, is the sadness and nostalgia to acknowledge that life is never as easy as the ideal scenario, trapped between the brackets of our inner utopias. Life is full of opportunities, where we choose to go left when going right would have changed everything. Life is bittersweet, because the places you choose to go imply that you can’t go to the ones you didn’t choose. You can only take one path.
Admitting that you can only take one path scares me so much. The fact that most of the time, you can’t go back. Life goes on, and you will eventually bump into loved ones that you lost, playing in your head the ideal scenario. And it will be sad. You will feel nostalgic of what you haven’t experienced, even though there is a reason you turned left.
The sad truth, that life is never the ideal scenario, because it is full of roads untaken, is my deepest fear. I never want to regret turning left, even though the path I chose took me to nice places. I want it all.