Imagine, if you will, a LA freeway ramp on a hot summer day in rush hour. The occupants of the cars are cranky and overheated. That is until one girl, fed up with the gridlock, jumps out of her car and begins singing and dancing on the road. Slowly, other people join in. Soon everyone is out of their cars and singing with abandon. They all know the words to this one song! They're all dancing in unison! They all wore bright, coordinated clothing!

If that doesn't sound like the most perfect opening to a movie ever, then La La Land is not the movie for you. (Also, you may be dead inside; you should get that checked out.) La La Land is a musical; a homage - but something better - to classic musicals, and it really means it. That opening scene on the freeway is unapologetically exuberant and joyous (all shot in one take, I might add) and sets the tone for the entire movie. It will melt even the most jaded of hearts.

It doesn't initially feel so joyous for main characters Mia (Emma Stone) and Seb (Ryan Gosling), though. They are both struggling to realize their dreams. Mia is an actress, working at a cafe until her big break (it could be in this Dangerous Minds-meets-the-OC thing she's just waiting for a callback on) and Seb dreams of opening the perfect jazz bar in the perfect location, if only it wasn't currently a samba-tapas (pick one, dammit) bar.

Their first meet-cute isn't actually cute at all. Then they have another chance when Mia is drawn into a restaurant unknowingly by Seb's piano playing but, alas, that was not their moment either. It isn't until months later when Mia sees Seb at a party that their stars finally start to align. Cue a lilting dance number on a hill overlooking the city in a pink-tinged dusk and you can't help but feel the butterflies.

La La Land is a sweeping romance but it's also a story about art and creating. It's about wanting to have it all and the almost-impossible balance between creative ambition and paying your bills. It asks the question, "should you keep trying or just grow up already?" It's also bubbling with nostalgia for a glittery time long past. It might be set in modern day, but it imagines a more romantic version of LA and Hollywood.

I couldn't imagine a more perfect director for a musical than Damien Chazelle. He understands the power of music on a whole other level and knows how to build set design, cinematography, costume design, etc. around that power to amplify it. Whiplash gave us a glimpse (the arrangement and editing of the music scenes are sublime; jazz playing has never looked so damn good) but in La La Land, Chazelle shines. The music numbers are effortless and natural (yes, even the one that involves Mia and Seb literally floating into the stars).

It's worth mentioning Stone and Gosling's on-screen chemistry. It's literally electric. (I want to be part of their relationship but I can't sing or dance so they probably wouldn't let me.) We've seen them act together before (Gangster Squad and Crazy, Stupid, Love) but the addition of tap shoes and singing propels them to magical levels.

Chazelle also knows how to nail an ending. Whiplash blew my mind; I was on the edge of my seat for what was essentially a conductor and a dude playing drums. And La La Land's ending is something extraordinary as well. Its unabashed longing for what could be pulls at you like nothing else.

La La Land should be for everyone but a story this brightly hopeful about love and creativity is sure to attract jaded criticism. Even the film knows this, though. At one point, Mia muses about a play she's written and worries that it feels too nostalgic and people won't like it. Seb's response ("Fuck 'em!") is most certainly a sassy eyebrow raise to people who will say the same about La La Land. Seriously, fuck 'em.

LA LA LAND, directed by Damien Chazelle, premiered on Friday 7 October at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival. Go here to learn more.