Careers

Why every professional needs to see 'La La Land'

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in "La La Land."
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in "La La Land."

"La La Land" is an unforgettable love story — but not the kind you might expect.

It's not the chemistry between Ryan Gosling's and Emma Stone's characters that you'll want to hold on to as you walk out of the theater, though their acting is incredible.

It's the love story between the characters and their careers.

The movie follows Sebastian, a musician, and Mia, an actress, as they try to make it big. He cannot pay his bills but continues to pursue jazz gigs. She works at a coffee shop on a movie set lot, scrambling to get to auditions between shifts.

Their courtship is fun to watch, but it's their quest to succeed in their careers that is really exciting.

As you can tell from the trailer, or even the posters, Mia and Sebastian fall in love with each other. At the same time, they're already deeply committed to their own professions. They're each attractive, talented and hard-working. The question posed by "La La Land" is: Can they have it all?

"La La Land" is a wistful, romantic story about a more modern kind of relationship; the kind that certain driven individuals look to have with their careers. More and more young people wait to get married, or stay single permanently, but they still have to sort out early on what they're going to do to make money. Rent is expensive. So are student loans.

Many young people these days are in search for The One, the job they can feel passionate about and fulfilled by. After all, they've grown up idolizing self-made entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg or Michelle Phan, who have made it for themselves.

This can be especially true for women of Mia's generation. We're told to "lean in" to our careers, not our love lives. Today, you're more likely to hear a kid say she wants to be YouTube famous than a princess. A great career is the dream.

For viewers who never let themselves pursue those career passions, "La La Land" will make think about the one that got away, job-wise. It may remind you of the field you wished you could have explored, the internship you deleted from your resume when you had to "get serious" or the dream you left on the pages of an old journal.

And given an uncertain U.S. economy, that's understandable.

Unemployment remains high for certain demographics and the number of people working in part-time jobs not by choice remains high. Wages are inching upward, but the cost of living and burdensome student loans put many living paycheck to paycheck. Following your dreams for most people just isn't practical.

"You could just write your own rules," Sebastian says to Mia. "You know, write something that's as interesting as you are." Mia scoffs at first, but then she tries it. After all, isn't she too young to settle? At least without trying her damnedest first?

Damien Chazelle's movie should come with a warning label. It's all about dreamers, and it may make you want to throw caution to the winds and remember you're a dreamer, too.