The one thing that Chazelle seems to have little interest in is life. He turns Mia into an absolute cipher, giving her nothing whatsoever to talk about.
As good as La La Land is throughout, the last act elevates the movie considerably. And while everything here has roots elsewhere, the way Chazelle strings these notes together somehow looks and sounds fresh and new.
The movie ends with a what-might-have-been fantasia that is one of the most emotionally moving passages I've ever seen in a musical. It's like a bluesy jazz piano chord, full of hurt and healing, that slowly fades to silence.
For all its borrowing and bricolage, La La Land never feels like a backward-looking or unoriginal work. Even when not every one of its risks pays off the way that first song does, this movie is bold, vital, funny, and alive.
It's more vibrant than Chicago, more heartfelt than Les Miserables, and more successfully staged than a chorus of other contenders.
"La La Land" is as delightful and magical as you've heard -- a big, joyful celebration of old-school Hollywood musicals -- but it's also smarter, tougher, and sadder than its moonstruck trailer might suggest.
Long live the musical. Bring enough Kleenex.
La La Land is a full-service throwback to the Golden Age musical, transposed with lashings of romantic melancholy to a contemporary Los Angeles decked out in primary-colored plumage.
Chazelle has assembled a vibrant, infectiously hummable pastiche of musical and cinematic styles - an entrancing ode to the glories of cinema past as well as a heartfelt expression of faith in the medium's future.