It’s almost spring, so I’m almost out of the dark, snowy funk of winter that leaves me less-than-interested in writing.
And I’m not even back to writing about my usual crafts and sewing. Instead, I’m writing about a movie. La La Land, specifically. Which I know everyone and their dog has talked and written about. So of course this post contains spoilers, just in case you’ve managed to avoid all the other ones out there.
But when I saw it a second time (I really liked it, for the record), something struck me and stuck with me. I need to get the observation out of my head, and, well, I haven’t posted in a while, so why not share it here!
My first watching, I fell in love with the Audition Song. And watching a second time, the song still stuck out. But this time I wondered about the aunt.
The one who “Lived with her liquor and died with a flicker.”
The one who must have had a sister in Mia’s mother. (I keep thinking the aunt was Mom’s sister, rather than Dad’s. Probably because it’s my own mother who has sisters.)
The aunt who traveled the world, and did wonderful crazy things, like jumping into the Seine. And who at some point came home and shared the dream of theater with her niece.
And while Mia and her aunt watched old films at the library, Mia’s mother worried. She worried about her sister, and her increasing drinking problem. She worried what dreams the fools were dreaming; she worried that hearts would break and worried about the mess they’d make. And then mother lost sister, who died with a flicker, drinking too much, perhaps pining away for the lost glamor of the stage.
And mother watched daughter join theater clubs, and write plays, and eventually drive down the dusty road towards Hollywood. Mia’s mother supported her through six years of bit parts and coffee-shop jobs and attempting to be the stand out from the crowd.
And in the back of mother’s mind, there must have been fear. Fear of seeing her daughter fail, of daughter following aunt’s footsteps, not just into the Seine, but all the way to the bottom of the bottle.
In one scene, a one-sided, overheard phone call, Mother is clearly worried, and questions Mia’s life, and her love. She hopes beyond hope that Mia’s boyfriend is successful, and working, and not just living for a dream, like her daughter is and her sister was.
And when Mia gives up and comes home, to an orderly house in a quiet neighborhood across from the local library, to a childhood room filled with carefully dusted triumphs of grade-school acting, did Mother breath a secret sigh of relief as she brewed her daughter another cup of tea?
Did Mom say a prayer of thanks that her daughter came home from La La Land before it was too late, even while comforting her?
How many years of encouragement did mom give? How many doubts and fears hid behind the love?
In the end, I love the music, and admire the clever twists on traditional musical progress, and was blown away by the alternate-universe-flashback. But what stays with me is the question of Mia’s mother, and the hidden story of sisterhood.