opinion

Stop complaining about the ending of La La Land, it was just perfect.

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.

via GIPHY

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.

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In this dream, Sebastian hadn’t shoved past Mia the first night they met.

He hadn’t left her to face her disastrous first one-woman show alone. He hadn’t told her to go on to Paris without him when she finally got the job she’d always, always wanted. In short, in that dream sequence, Sebastian was not a bit of a jerk.

You can still catch La La Land in cinemas. (Source: Gilbert Films.) .

Who amongst us hasn't played that game when a relationship is on the turn - if only it was a bit more like this, if only he was a bit more like that, if only she was less, you know...

In reality, as the dream sequence spools, Mia is sitting next to her husband. In the five or so minutes he's on screen, the short-hand we're given about the man Mia has ended up with - had a baby with, even - is that he is not the guy who would leave you standing alone on a stage, holding back tears.

The outpouring of love for La La Land is because of the ending, not despite it. We don't always end up with the fireworks person. That's the Hollywood ending, but it's not necessarily the real life one. Or the right one.

And when you're making a throughly modern musical about love and ambition and Ryan Gosling is dancing and Emma Stone is singing and the LA sun is setting... a "Hollywood ending" is just plain redundant.

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Still not over the one who got away? You might want to listen to Robin Bailey's thoughts on forgiveness in this episode of The Well.