My Love/Hate Relationship with La La Land

Primary Colors for Contrast:

The film employs primary colors, particularly red, yellow, and blue, to create a visually striking contrast. This choice refers to the Technicolor musicals of Hollywood's golden era and adds a sense of nostalgia and timelessness to the story.


Red is a dominant color in the film and is often associated with passion, romance, and dreams. It's prominently featured in Mia's dresses, Sebastian's car, and various production design elements. The red dress Mia wears during the dance sequence in the Griffith Observatory is particularly iconic, symbolizing her artistic aspirations and the intense love between Mia and Sebastian.


Yellow is used to represent optimism, joy, and hope. The opening sequence, set on a Los Angeles freeway, features a burst of yellow in the form of vibrant dresses and cars. It immediately sets the tone for a film celebrating the pursuit of dreams and the city of stars, Los Angeles.


Blue is used more sparingly but is significant in its own right. It represents moments of introspection and melancholy. For instance, the blue in Mia's dress during her heartfelt audition song, "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)," reflects the bittersweet nature of her journey.

Seasonal Palettes

The film cleverly uses different color palettes to reflect the changing seasons in Los Angeles. From the warm, golden hues of summer to the cool, muted tones of winter, the colors mirror the characters' emotional journeys and the passage of time.

The "What Could Have Been" Sequence

One of the most striking and emotionally charged uses of color occurs in the "What Could Have Been" sequence. The colors transform into a beautiful, dreamlike palette as Mia and Sebastian imagine an alternate reality where they stay together, raising a family. This sequence is awash in deep purples and vivid oranges, creating a surreal and nostalgic atmosphere. It represents the longing and imagination of what might have been while emphasizing the emotional impact of their choices. Don’t get me started on what happens when this scene ends…. Hand me a tissue, please. 

Lighting and Cinematography

The film's lighting and cinematography work in harmony with the color palette. Soft, warm lighting during romantic scenes contrasts with the cool, moody lighting in moments of conflict or contemplation. This dynamic lighting enhances the emotional resonance of each set.

In "La La Land," color isn't just a visual aesthetic and storytelling tool. It communicates emotions, dreams, and the complexities of love and ambition. The willful and thoughtful use of color contributes to the film's enchanting and emotionally charged narrative, making it a visually captivating masterpiece in contemporary cinema.