An aspiring actress (Emma Stone, "The Amazing Spider-Man") and an idealist jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling; "The Big Short," "The Ides of March," "Drive") fall in love and work through their ambitions to make it in the city of dreamers and movie stars. The charming leads sing, tap and twirl through their meet-cutes and rocky relationship.
Story-wise, not much happens for a long while, but it kicks in the later part of the movie. It's about the pursuit of one's life passion, versus going with the practical route of settling for a regular job and steady income.
For all the A-listers, there are far more working artists. Countless audition rejections, taking on a second job as a studio barista or a safe one in a local band to make ends meet. The road to achieve one's dreams is not without crushed hopes and personal sacrifice.
Los Angeles is aesthetically filmed, awash with a pastel palette and accentuated with pops of bright colors. Dreamlike cityscapes and streets in daylight, twilight and illuminated night. Flared dresses in blood red, royal blue, emerald green and canary yellow.
Melodious song-and-dance numbers include memorable sequences such as a real freeway traffic jam, whimsical tap-dancing on the hill in the dusk, magical floating among the stars in the planetarium, among others. There's also a melancholic duet on the original song for the movie, "City of Stars."
A romantic musical that blends Old Hollywood fantasy with modern reality, it's a lovely movie to end or start the year.