WARNING: If you read the next five words without seeing La La Land, you will know what happens at the end. If you do not want to know, click away now.
The one that got away.
If you are over the age of say… 28, and you didn’t end up buying a cat with your high school sweetheart, you probably have one of those.
Someone who, at one moment in time, dominated your every waking thought but who didn’t end up being your Mr/Ms/Whatever Right.
Someone you once loved more than chocolate but now you barely know.
If you do, and you have seen La La Land – Damien Chazelle’s Golden Globe-nominated musical that’s worth sprinting to the cinema for right now – then the ending will fill you with a kind of nostalgic sea-sickness.
And when it’s over, just like leads Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone), you will smile.
But not everyone is smiling.
After spending more than two hours watching two of the most photogenic humans on the planet dance, sing, fall in love, fight, dance, sing, reunite… in the final scene of LLL, we learn that Mia and Sebastian didn’t make it.
After all that, they just couldn’t manage to keep their blisteringly good chemistry going as their ambitions were finally realised. They got their Hollywood dreams, but they didn’t get each other.
Many romantic souls are feeling ripped off by this. As if a film as joyous and uplifting as La La Land pretty much owed its audience a happy ending.
“This is NOT what I go to the movies for,” is a common refrain.
But. Come on.
Great love stories do not all have to end the same way: A ring, a dress, a house, a bump.
Some great love stories are about people who appear in your life, take you on a magnificent ride, open your eyes to possibilities you did not know existed (some of these possibilities are often of the sexual variety, let’s be honest) and then leave. Or get left.
Some people – people like obsessive jazz pianists who refuse to compromise, let’s say – are wonderful to be in lust with, but a disaster to live with.
In the final moments of La La Land, Mia and Sebastian see each other for the first time in five years and a frenetic dream sequence flashes through what their relationship would have been like if everything had gone right.