La La Land has a narrow path to walk in order to succeed. The lavish Hollywood musical seems to flourish in the presumed ‘simpler times’ of the past, before irony, cynicism and disillusionment were invented in the mid-1960s. Realism is anathema to a world in which groups of people burst spontaneously into elaborate, choreographed song-and-dance routines. Despite this, director Damien Chazelle has been largely successful. While the balance between music and narrative is lost for some time in the third act, it returns in spectacular fashion in the closing scenes. The final show-stopper is a gorgeous punch to the heart, an emotional climax earned by the affection that the film has built over the journey of the two romantic leads.