When struggling jazz pianist Sebastian first meets aspiring actress Mia he blanks her. She hears him playing in a club and wants to congratulate him, but Sebastian has just lost his job and he shoves his way past her. However, with many a song and dance routine, it is not long before the two fall in love.
Both have their dreams, both are trying to break into the big time, and it won’t be long before this will test their relationship. Mia inspires Sebastian to follow his dream, Sebastian refuses to let Mia give up on her hopes of being an actress. They desperately long to make it in the ‘city of stars’.
It’s interesting here that they sing about their need for love, not fame or stardom, but ‘all we’re looking for is love from someone else’, and ‘a voice that says “I’ll be here” and you’ll be okay.’ The presence and reality of someone who cares, someone who is always there, always interested and supportive. This will be the clash for them, the longing for love and acceptance up against their hunger for success.
Trainspotting 2 is out this week (a very different film from La La Land!), and in a revised version of the famous ‘Choose Life’ monologue from the first Trainspotting film the character Renton says this:
‘You’re an addict, so be addicted,
Just be addicted to something else.
Choose the ones you love,
Choose your future,
This reminds me of something I used to say – I think we are all designed to be a kind of addict, to not be able to make it through the day without our fix of God. We’re designed to need, to long for, to be addicted to, divine love and compassion. Which may well be why we go chasing after so many things to fill that void. Mia and Sebastian know their great need of love, or at least they sing about knowing it, but they still chase other things. In one of his songs (Psalm 84 v 2) King David sang about his dream, his deep longing to be close to God, ‘My soul longs, even faints, for your presence, my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.’ We are all conflicted people, we know something of that longing for the deep satisfaction of God, but we chase it in other things, coffee, sweets, food, drink, sex, parties, alcohol, popularity, success and more. At times we look in the right places, and at others we get the focus all wrong. I guess it will be the ongoing story for all of us. Not just those in La La Land.