La La Land

La La Land ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

There are some films you love and you handle them with white gloves, and there are some films you love and you want to play with the pieces. LA LA LAND is the latter for me, and it's that ending that will stick with me forever. Now bear with me: let's lop off the last 30 seconds. This is a story about the vital importance of dreams and the ability/inability to maintain a relationship in pursuit of those dreams. Sebastian is definitely portrayed as dreams-first, and he finally achieves what he wants exactly the way he wants. He owns a popular jazz club. But in all the jazz clubs in the world, she had to walk through his door. And it shakes him. And he plays that mournful piano tune that only they know. And we get a beautiful dream ballet that acts as alternate history, where he is good and supportive, and all her dreams come true, and wait for it, his dreams don't. In his wish-fulfilling fantasy, he would trade it all to have a life with her. And we come out of the dream, back to him playing the piano. The crowd applauds because he played something beautiful. She watches him, he continues to look at his keys, and as the applause finishes, the film ENDS. The power of regret in the face of total success is the stuff of love stories, and having them share a look at the end, for me, burst that bubble. But again, I love this movie. And is there a bigger laugh this year than "Winter" superimposed over sunlit Los Angeles?

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