میا (اما استون) دختر جوانی مشتاق بازیگری است که در فاصلههای زمانی آزمونهای بازیگری خود به بازیگرها قهوه لاته میدهد. سباستین (رایان گاسلینگ) نیز یک نوازنده پیانو سبک جاز است که فعلاً با نواختن موسیقی در کافههای دلگیر سر میکند. میا و سباستین موقع رانندگی در یک بزرگراه شلوغ در لس آنجلس به هم برخورد میکنند و کارشان به مشاجره میکشد. چند ماه بعد در یک مهمانی تصادفاً با هم رو به رو میشوند. ملاقات اولیه آنها گرچه پر از طعنه و کنایه به همدیگر است اما به وضوح چیز دیگری بینشان شکل گرفته است. اما آیا میتوان عشق و موفقیت برای آرزوهایی که هر دو سالها برایش زحمت کشیدند را با هم داشت؟
Stuck in traffic on a Los Angeles highway (“Another Day of Sun”), Mia, an aspiring actress, has a moment of road rage with Sebastian, a struggling jazz pianist. Her subsequent audition goes poorly. That night, Mia’s roommates take her to a lavish party in the Hollywood Hills (“Someone in the Crowd”). She walks home after her car is towed.
During a gig at a restaurant, Sebastian slips into a passionate jazz improvisation despite warnings from the owner to stick to the setlist. Mia overhears the music as she passes by (“Mia and Sebastian’s Theme”). Moved, she enters the restaurant, but Sebastian is fired. As he storms out, Mia attempts to compliment him, but he brushes her off.
Months later, Mia runs into Sebastian at a party where he plays in a 1980s pop cover band; she teases him by requesting “I Ran (So Far Away)”, a song he considers an insult for “a serious musician”. After the gig, the two walk to their cars, lamenting each other’s company despite the chemistry between them (“A Lovely Night”).
Mia shows Sebastian around the movie lot where she works as a barista, explaining her passion for acting. Sebastian takes Mia to a jazz club, describing his passion for jazz and desire to open his own club. They warm to each other (“City of Stars”). Sebastian invites Mia to a screening of Rebel Without a Cause; Mia accepts, forgetting a commitment with her current boyfriend. Bored during that date, she runs to the theatre, finding Sebastian as the film begins. The two conclude their evening with a romantic dance at the Griffith Observatory (“Planetarium”).
After more failed auditions, Mia decides, at Sebastian’s suggestion, to write a one-woman play. Sebastian begins to perform regularly at a jazz club (“Summer Montage”), and the two move in together. Sebastian’s former classmate Keith invites him to be the keyboardist in his fusion jazz band, with a steady income. Dismayed by the band’s pop style, Sebastian signs after overhearing Mia trying to convince her mother that Sebastian is working on his career. Mia attends one of their concerts (“Start a Fire”) but is disturbed, knowing Sebastian does not enjoy his band’s music.
During the band’s first tour, Mia and Sebastian get into an argument; she accuses him of abandoning his dreams, while he claims she liked him more when he was unsuccessful. Mia leaves. Sebastian misses Mia’s play due to a photo shoot he had forgotten. The play is a disaster; few people attend, and Mia overhears dismissive comments. Despondent, she moves back home to Boulder City, Nevada.
Sebastian receives a call from a casting director who attended Mia’s play, inviting her to a film audition. Sebastian drives to Boulder City and persuades Mia to attend. The casting directors ask Mia to tell a story; she sings about her aunt who inspired her to pursue acting (“Audition/The Fools Who Dream”). Sebastian encourages her to devote herself to the opportunity. They profess they will always love each other but are uncertain of their future.
Five years later, Mia is a famous actress and happily married to another man, with whom she has a daughter. One night, the couple stumbles upon a jazz bar. Noticing the “Seb’s” logo she had once designed, Mia realizes Sebastian has opened his club, and they spot each other. He plays their love theme and the two imagine what might have been had their relationship worked perfectly (“Epilogue”). Before Mia departs with her husband, she shares a smile with Sebastian.