In defense of the ending of La La Land


The ending of La La Land reinvigorated my faith in humanity and helped me recover from the election.


With the Academy Awards this weekend you really have no excuses not to have seen La La Land yet. The presumptive best picture award winner captivated many viewers with the simple fact that in the face of all of the news and reality the country has been facing– it was fun.


I should note that I have seen almost all of the nominated pictures and preferred Lion and Hidden Figures but also appreciated the beauty of Moonlight. However, I credit La La Land with impacting my life more than many movies I’ve seen in recent years.


Like many, the election made me sad. I love our country and watching it go in a direction that I don’t agree with is sad.


November and December was one of the worst periods for my mental health, not only because of the election, but because of financial, personal, existential, and romantic downturns. It was in that state of mind that I went to see La La Land with my parents for our annual Christmas Day movie.



In the ending of La La Land, the two main characters break up and end up achieving all of their dreams, he to open a music club and she to become a famous actress. At the end of the film, there is a brief flashback that almost makes you feel like it is an alternative ending, completely changing much of the plot of the movie. In the flashback simply the meet-cute was slightly altered and the rest was history as the two stayed together. The flashback ends and we are brought back to the reality that they were not together and their lives continued.


Walking out of the movie theater I overheard many people commenting that it was a good movie “but the ending! They should have ended up together.” No, they shouldn’t have. That’s not the way life works.


Sometimes life is sad. Sometimes what you thought would be happy and perfect doesn’t work out. Actually, that’s what usually happens. While the characters may have been perfect for each other because they were both played by talented actors and we were meant to be cheering on their romance for the previous two hours, life is complicated and flawed. While two people can want the best for each other, they may not always be best for each other. Heartache and failure are necessary for rebuilding one’s life and building character and resilience.


In a world where I seem to constantly be surrounded by people and thinking that we cannot admit we are sometimes wrong (example a: American contemporary politics) and an artistic medium where life always needs to end up wrapped in a tidy bow, it was refreshing to watch the movie continue to show the “what could be” scene. Life is full of the “what could be’s” and while it is important to take time at jazz clubs to reflect on how your future could have changed, even more, important it is paramount to reflect on the success you’ve achieved alone as a result of the experience that is life.


This is why I loved La La Land, not from the dancing and singing (I loved that too) but from the reminder of resilience.


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