“Jamie is over and Jamie is gone. / Jamie's decided it's time to move on. / Jamie has new dreams he's building upon. / And I'm still hurting.”
The Last Five Years is yet another Broadway musical that has arrived in theaters. Jason Robert Brown’s musical play was adapted by director, Richard LaGravenese, and I couldn’t help but feel that the transition felt a bit forced at times. I’m not the biggest fan of musicals, but the best thing this adaptation has going for it is the inclusion of Anna Kendrick in the starring role as Cathy. She has a fantastic voice and a charming screen presence (and one of the main reasons why I was a huge fan of the comedy Pitch Perfect). The film opens with her singing about her failed marriage to Jamie (Jeremy Jordan). We then are introduced to Jamie in the next scene in a flashback where we see the couple falling in love for the first time five years ago. Jordan also delivers in the lead role with a fantastic singing voice, and we soon realize that the film begins to intersect each scene with Cathy and Jamie’s point of view on their relationship. While Cathy’s story begins from the end of their relationship and moves back in time, Jamie’s story begins from its starting point and moves forward so it does seem a bit confusing at first as the two stories intersect with each other. This is the first time I’ve seen something like this done in a musical, but it’s been explored many times before in dramatic films (Blue Valentine is the one that came first to my mind). The songs are very well written and performed beautifully, but after some forty minutes the novelty of the experience wears off and the film begins to drag during its second half. It does get points for originality, but I wouldn’t recommend the film.
The lead actors deliver strong and believable performances and they share great chemistry so the romance works. The songs are also beautifully delivered and the lyrics are witty. The film is almost entirely sung and that is how we are introduced to each one of the characters and their own perspective on the ups and downs of their relationship. Jamie is an upcoming novelist who begins to find fame in his work, while Cathy is a struggling actress who doesn’t seem to have luck in the big city. They are both very much in love, but with Jamie’s fame the couple soon face new struggles. He has to attend several dinner parties with publishers, where Cathy feels left out, while she ends up having to travel to Ohio for smaller local stage plays there. The similar story of falling in and out of love has been drafted out in other films in the past with the differing perspectives of each lover, so it isn’t entirely unique. It is hard to sympathize very much with these characters despite the chemistry between both actors because it becomes clear that they are both heading towards different paths. The musical begins with some promise, but it dies off and becomes tiresome by the end. I wasn’t a fan of the handheld camera work either which is extremely shaky at times.