Everyone may be talking about another new “romantic” movie coming out this weekend, but you know what? They’re totally talking about the wrong one.
Based off Jason Robert Brown’s off-Broadway musical, The Last Five Years follows one relationship from two perspectives. Cathy’s (Anna Kendrick) perspective begins at the end of their relationship and moves backward in time, while Jamie’s (Jeremy Jordan) begins at the start and moves forward. It’s an ambitious musical that is a whirlwind of emotions. It will make you smile one minute and weep the next.
The Last Five Years has a heartbreaking open with Cathy singing “I’m Still Hurting,” while she stares at a letter, likely from Jamie. Their marriage is over; he’s moved out, and Cathy doesn’t understand why it’s ending like this. From this opening scene, you know that this movie is going to be sensational. Anna Kendrick sings the song so powerfully, yet despondently. She looks so devastated, and I can hear and feel it in her voice.
From there, we jump to Jamie with a more upbeat song as he delightfully and lovingly sings to Cathy in bed about how he wouldn’t want any other woman but her. The song is light and funny, and Jeremy Jordan is adorably charming and playful. Seeing them so in love makes the film a lot more intriguing because you have no idea how it could’ve ended like the scene before.
But the story moves on and the songs are sung, and with each jump in time, we see how they change and where their life together takes them. Even though understanding continues to dawn on the audience throughout, the film remains just as hopeful and bittersweet as it did at the start because Cathy is falling more in love, while Jamie is falling out of it.
Anna Kendrick is amazing in the movie; she gives it her all. Some may say her voice isn’t up to par; the emotion she puts forth erases any hindrances she may have. Jeremy Jordan is just as good, starting out as the affable, sweet guy who turns into a self-absorbed, confused man. Their characters transform so much throughout their story, and that gives the film so much impact.
Directed by Richard LaGravenese, the movie stays true to the musical. There are hardly any changes, and with a play as perfectly crafted as The Last Five Years, who would want to make any changes anyway? So, how does that bode for the film adaptation? Pretty well. The movie is mostly all sung, and that may turn off many people. Yet, it’s probably the most friendly and accessible movie musical for non-musical fans. It’s much subtler than your average musical and deals with a subject that is relatable to almost everyone. Plus, it’s one of the best musical scores I’ve ever listened to, and musical fan or not, it’s hard not to appreciate Jason Robert Brown’s work in one way or another.
This may not be the “Happily Ever After” movie you want on Valentine’s Day weekend, but it’s the most real movie you’ll see about love.
The Last Five Years opens in select theaters on February 13, 2015. It will also be available to rent on Video On Demand.