With SPOILERS regarding the finale of La La Land.
Whenever I think back to La La Land, I think of its finale.
When I think about why that is, the options are myriad.
It could be, for example, that the end is not a cacophony of conflict resolution, delivered at warp speed and deafening volume. La La Land as a whole has that going for it. To paraphrase someone on the Empire Podcast recently: there are only so many times you can get satisfaction out of seeing Spiderman save New York.
It could also be that despite the fact that La La Land introduces the expected, honking start of that conflict at the beginning of the third act, as per the Romance rule book, it does not wash over it come the conclusion. That was - is - refreshing. To see a major film that does not conclude (or does it?) with its two leads waltzing - literally or figuratively - into the sunset was the most welcome of surprises on offer.
Though all of those reasons are valid reasons to love La La Land's finish, I think I've figured out mine.
The end of La La Land understands, references and reminds you that what you have just watched is a film, indestructible and beautiful for all time. It suggests alternative fictions to the fictions you have just seen, because, in a fiction, that's entirely possible. You can almost see it pressing the 'rewind' button itself to take the tape (ask your parents) back to the beginning and happier times.
It isn't just brave of plot; it is brave of form. La La Land is, of course, a musical, with scant contact with reality. But that's no bad thing and it knows it. In many of the articles around the time of the film's release, critics suggested that it was what we needed at the moment. A break. A couple of hours out of realism and reality. For once the popular opinion couldn't have been more accurate. The film's finale gives cathartic satisfaction by drawing attention to the medium's impermanence. In doing this, it also secures the film's timelessness.
Because ultimately that is the power of cinema. The power to rewind and revisit; reimagine and reshape. Your favourites will always be there; always in love, or not, as you see fit. Chazelle and his film understand all of this.
King Kong doesn't exist and has been killed, but is still there. The Vietnam war wasn't as Robin Williams deejayed it, yet it is again. President Nixon is still in power, ready to be brought down by Woodward and Bernstein.
And the romance of La La Land isn't over.