La La Land

Director: Damien Chazelle
Year Released: 2016
Rating: 3.5

Two struggling artists in Los Angeles, jazz musician Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and actress Mia (Emma Stone), begin seeing each other, but their respective careers keep interfering with the relationship: he 'sells out' to go on tour with a band (led by John Legend) while her one-woman play is ignored by the public. What I initially feared would be a masturbatory love-letter to the City of Angels (and Hollyweird in general) actually becomes something more melancholy and wistful as it progresses: art, it seems, truly is a cruel mistress and the two lovers go their separate ways (the concluding fantasy sequence, in which everything fits together 'perfectly,' is a somber glimpse at what might have been). One could argue it would function quite well without the musical numbers, but I like to think of them as the sprinkles on a bitter sundae (I suspect Chazelle screened The Umbrellas of Cherbourg more than once prior to writing this).