Directed by: Damien Chazelle
Produced by: Fred Berger × Jordan Horowitz × Gary Gilbert × Marc Platt
Written by: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling: Sebastian × Emma Stone: Mia
Music by: Justin Hurwitz
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment
Release date: August 31, 2016 (Venice Film Festival) × December 9, 2016 (United States)
Running time: 128 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $30 million
Box office: $443.3 million
While stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles highway (“Another Day of Sun”), Mia Dolan, an aspiring actress, has a moment of road rage with Sebastian Wilder, a struggling jazz pianist. Her subsequent audition goes poorly, where the casting director takes a call in the middle of an emotional scene. That night, Mia’s roommates take her to a lavish party in the Hollywood Hills (“Someone in the Crowd”). She walks home after her car is towed.
During a gig at a restaurant, Sebastian slips into a passionate jazz improvisation despite warnings from the owner to stick to the setlist of traditional Christmas songs. Mia overhears the music as she passes by (“Mia and Sebastian’s Theme”). Moved, she enters the restaurant, but Sebastian is fired. As he storms out, Mia attempts to compliment him, but he brushes her off.
Months later, Mia runs into Sebastian at a party where he plays in a 1980s pop cover band; she teases him by requesting “I Ran (So Far Away)”, a song he considers an insult for “a serious musician”. After the gig, the two walk to their cars, lamenting each other’s company despite the chemistry between them (“A Lovely Night”).
The next day, Sebastian arrives at Mia’s work, and she shows Sebastian around the movie lot, where she works as a barista, while explaining her passion for acting. Sebastian takes Mia to a jazz club, describing his passion for jazz and desire to open his own club. They warm up to each other (“City of Stars”). Sebastian invites Mia to a screening of Rebel Without a Cause; Mia accepts, forgetting a commitment with her current boyfriend. Bored with the double date with her boyfriend, she runs to the theater, finding Sebastian as the film begins. The two conclude their evening with a romantic dance at the Griffith Observatory (“Planetarium”).
After more failed auditions, Mia decides, at Sebastian’s suggestion, to write a one-woman play. Sebastian begins to perform regularly at a jazz club (“Summer Montage”), and the two move in together. Sebastian’s former classmate Keith invites him to be the keyboardist in his fusion jazz band, where he will be offered a steady income. Although dismayed by the band’s pop style, Sebastian signs after overhearing Mia trying to convince her mother that Sebastian is working on his career. Mia attends one of their concerts (“Start a Fire”) but is disturbed, knowing Sebastian does not enjoy his band’s music.
During the band’s first tour, Mia and Sebastian get into an argument; she accuses him of abandoning his dreams, while he claims she liked him more when he was unsuccessful. Mia leaves, insulted and frustrated. Sebastian misses Mia’s play due to a photo shoot with the band that he had forgotten. The play is a disaster; few people attend, and Mia overhears dismissive comments. Despondent and unable to pay the theater back, she moves back home to Boulder City, Nevada.
Sebastian receives a call from a casting director who attended Mia’s play, inviting her to a film audition. Sebastian drives to Boulder City and persuades Mia to attend. The casting directors ask Mia to tell a story; she sings about her aunt who inspired her to pursue acting (“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”). Sebastian encourages her to devote herself to the opportunity. They profess they will always love each other but are uncertain of their future.
Five years later, Mia is a famous actress and happily married to another man, with whom she has a daughter. One night, the couple stumbles upon a jazz bar. Noticing the “Seb’s” logo she had once designed, Mia realizes Sebastian has opened his club. As Sebastian notices Mia in the crowd, he plays their love theme and the two imagine what might have been had their relationship worked perfectly (“Epilogue”). Before Mia leaves with her husband, she shares a smile with Sebastian.
The movie is not your typical film. It’s a musical so you’d expect a lot of singing and dancing. I appreciate musicals and the first one I saw was Les Miserables. I also enjoy animated musical movies. However, this one’s different from those animated ones. It’s the type of movie wherein one shot can roll up to a few minutes with no cuts so you’d wonder ‘how many times did they have to do that’ to get it perfectly? Mia and Sebastian are easily loved characters.
I liked Mia’s attitude and I can relate to her somehow. I dreamt of being on stage when I was in college and dreamt of a happy family too. I wish I had Mia’s courage when she spoke/argue with Seb about putting up his own Club and what he’s currently doing was not something that makes him happy. I did not have that courage to tell my boyfriend to look for a better job, to even talk to him about it, so I really appreciated seeing Mia do that because it gave me courage (not just now). So you could expect that I was broken hearted when they lived a different life than what I had imagined.
At first, I was thinking (in denial, actually) that Mia’s husband and family was just a part of a movie or film she’s working on and they just made it look like she’s really married to a different guy but I was disgruntled to know that they really did separate and lived different lives. It really pulled my strings and made me cry. I realized that not everything that’s yours will be yours forever. And sometimes, love is not enough to keep a relationship.
More movie reviews coming your way. Stay tuned! ❤