A large portion of the film is spent feeling whether the numerous disjointed narrative threads are ever going to come to a head. However, they tie up neatly in the end, and the shamelessly corny story, never too knowingly cool in its script, wins you over with solid performances from actors who, though we know are better than these roles, give solid and committed performances. For me though, it was all about Ryan Gosling; slipping effortlessly between the brooding and the comedic. The actor possesses an easy charm and diversity, moments just lift when he comes onscreen. His scenes with Emma Stone make investing in these characters truly joyous.
It’s not a particularly heavy watch, but like Ron Howard’s Parenthood from 1989, there’ll always be some delightful resonating truth to be found within the soul-searching score and earnest find-yourself graduation speeches. You just need to be brave and jettison the cynicism.