Warning: bitter spoilers ahead.
After finally finishing college apps, I wanted to judge the highly acclaimed “La La Land” for myself. Throughout the musical, I felt as if I were the coolest third wheel to a dazzling relationship between Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian and Emma Stone’s Mia. I rooted for them as Sebastian prompted Mia to fulfill her childhood dream of starring in her own play and as Mia pushed Sebastian to open his jazz club. I was ready to shed tears of joy and see them conquer their dreams—together.
But that’s not what Damien Chazelle wanted!
The film’s final scene reveals Mia five years later as a prominent actress, kissing her husband, who is not Sebastian. Mia and the unidentified male somehow end up at Sebastian’s thriving jazz club. Sebastian spots Mia, and he begins to play a melody on the piano, and a montage, depicting what could have been if he and Mia had stayed together, plays in the background of my sobs.
I moped about the tragic finale for more than I’d like to admit, but I’ve finally realized that the ending was bittersweet at most. Mia and Sebastian both achieve their main goals, which, after all, were what they fought for in the first place. Their temporary relationship was simply a pleasant surprise that captured the evanescent beauty of Los Angeles. In this aspect, the final scene was conclusive, but realistically happy.
As the narcissist I am, I had to question what my initial reaction said about myself. Would I mope if the final scene of my own life showed me as editor-in-chief of the New York Times, living in a penthouse in Manhattan, but no Sebastian by my side, or no significant other at all? Was I dependent upon a man? To say the least, my feminist self was shook.
In retrospect, my sadness drew from the belief that the end of Mia and Sebastian’s relationship was a waste of amazing chemistry between them, not the thought that they’d be incomplete without one another. Come to think of it, I’m not dependent upon another person for wanting my own love story.
Once I accept that it’s not possible to obtain every single thing I want, I’ll turn to my priorities, as Mia and Sebastian did for themselves and each other. But if I currently had to choose, like Mia, I’d rather have my final scene exhibit a flourishing career than a white boy, though nice and cute, who thinks he can save jazz.
Of course, I’d gladly take both.