The Last Five Years (2014)

Comedy, Drama, Musical
Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan, Tamara Mintz, Cassandra Inman
A struggling actress and her novelist lover each illustrate the struggle and deconstruction of their love affair.
The Last Five Years hits a few awkward notes in its transition from stage to screen, but its freshness and sincere charm -- and well-matched stars -- offer their own rewards.
  • Radius-TWC Company:
  • PG-13 Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 13 Feb 2015 Released:
  • 05 May 2015 DVD Release:
  • $0.1M Box office:

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I was surprised how much I liked this film6/10
I am going to be honest in general avoid films that are 95% singing .At all costs. I started watching the last five years without the knowledge it was mostly singing and almost turned it off when Anna Kendrick started singing the opening song. and I am glad I didn't turn it off. although the film had its flaws I did enjoy watching it. I think the time jumps were done in a clever way which kept me guessing at what point in the relationship they were which I liked. I didn't love all the songs but I think I liked a good 70% of them which isn't a bad percentage considering I only liked 60% of the songs in Les miserables.

but as with all film that are mostly sung there is an element of repetitiveness. With musicals which have little dialogue I can always feel the runtime of the film because I am just waiting for the next song because I want the film to move forward with the story and I don't always want to the characters inner monologue and feelings all of the time but because of the musical nature of the film they sing a lot about how they feel. Sometimes it's a strength of this type of film but other times I just want to say I get it your happy or sad please move onto the next song.

overall I enjoyed the film.
Sunset to Sunrise, and back again5/10
Greetings again from the darkness. Adapting a hit stage production to the big screen is always a bit challenging. When it's a full blown musical, the challenge grows exponentially. Throw in a highly unusual story-telling structure and limit 99% of the screen time to two characters and, well, a filmmaker is either off-the-charts ambitious or one who truly enjoys suffering for art.

Director Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You) brings the hit off-Broadway musical by Jason Robert Brown to the screen, and features Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan as Cathy and Jamie, respectively. Ms. Kendrick has become the go-to actress for musicals with Into the Woods (as Cinderella) and the Pitch Perfect movies. She is a wonderful singer and a fine actress. Mr. Jordan is best known for TV's "Smash" and for "Newsies" on Broadway. He too is a talented singer.

Surprisingly, it's not the talented leads that provide the most interest here … it's the story structure. As per the title, the story follows the couple's relationship over a five year period. The opening scene features Cathy reading and reacting to the break-up note left by Jamie. The second scene features Jamie describing his joy when he first falls for Cathy, as they romp in bed. See, Cathy's story goes from the end to the beginning, while Jamie's story goes from the beginning to the end … intersecting only at the marriage proposal in the park. It's a fascinating way to tell a story – not just two perspectives, but also in reverse order of each other!

The song lyrics act as the dialogue, and that's where the transition from stage to screen falls a bit short. While the lyrics are clever and adequately describe each relationship change, those same lyrics and the non-stop singing, prevent the viewers from ever connecting to the characters … and more importantly, prevent us from understanding how these two characters ever connected to each other. Rather than a love story, it comes across as a moment of passion that turns into a relationship between two people who don't have much in common and don't particularly care for each other. And the real crux of the tension stems from Jamie's skyrocketing novel writing career versus Cathy's going-nowhere-but-Ohio acting career.

Cathy starts sad and ends happy, while Jamie starts happy (he found a Shiksa princess!) and finds a way to end his misery (writing a Dear Jane note). It's Sunset to Sunrise, and Sunrise to Sunset. The "goodbye" finale is very creative and well done. This unusual story structure is quite interesting, and the lyrics are sharp … it's the lack of spirit in the music, and the 90 minutes of the same two voices that prevent this from being something special.
A Heavy, Heart-Wrenching, Heavenly Movie9/10
This movie worried me. Being a fan of the original work, I was truly worried. Given the intricate and complicated mode or storytelling, as well as the music, which is advanced music, far above the simple rock chords of RENT or PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, I worried that either it wouldn't transfer well or that the charm and emotional pull of the piece would be lost. Let me set those worries right to rest - this musical is everything the original work was and more, but more importantly, this musical is fresh. What do I mean by fresh? Well, the original work was performed in 2002. Some of the lyrics reflect that (eg, references to Borders bookstores). But the musical has been revitalized for a more modern audience. Skype is used, Russell Crowe's less-than-wonderful musical turn is referenced. The orchestration is updated, but not mangled, to fit a more mainstream audience.

Now, onto the actual movie.

First, the stars. This may be one of the best musical movies ever made, simply because of the casting. For those that don't know, the story focuses on only two characters - Cathy and Jamie. No one else sings, and virtually no one else has any sort of character. Most oftentimes, the film industry casts star pull over talent, as evidenced by Russell Crowe as Javert, Gerard Butler as the Phantom of the Opera, and Johnny Depp as Sweeney Todd. But this is not the case here. While Anna Kendrick has some star pull with her recent success, she is clearly more talent that star power. She truly shines as Cathy, a slightly bookish, slightly wimpy musical theater star-in-the-making. Her vocal power is just what this role has been yearning for. On the other end of the spectrum, you have Jeremy Jordan, whom only musical theater fans will know. His success on the cult favorite hit, SMASH, notwithstanding, Jordan is here purely for talent. And what a talent he is! Surpassing everyone who has played the role thus far, Jordan winks and smiles his way through as the impish egotistical, yet loving Jamie. The stars are perfect for the roles they're in - nuff said.

Now, the direction. Richard LaGravanese works wonders with the movie. The way he chose to present each scene and how they all tie together in the end is a work of art and a joy to behold as a musical theater nerd myself.

Third, the cinematography. This is the ONLY (read: only) slight qualm I have with the film. The shooting style, at times, feel cagey, and sometimes too intimate. This is a very intimate story, but sometimes, the camera work feels like it was not used to its full effect. Then, however, there are times when the movie works beautifully on a cinematographic level. The sequence, "A Summer In Ohio" is one of the best-choreographed and best-shot musical numbers ever. "The Next Ten Minutes", however, is one of the worst. You're getting both ends of the spectrum here.

There's not much else to talk about. There was no big special effects budget. There is no supporting cast to speak of. The music is immune to criticism. If you love musical theater, The Last Five years stage play, love stories, or just interesting movies, this is the movie for you!
Better sung than visualized9/10
I became a fan of L5Y when I saw a regional production in the Berkshires. I instantly fell in love with the songs and the concept. Since then, I have also seen the recent off-Broadway production directed by Jason Robert Brown himself and have listened to the original cast album non-stop. When I heard they were making a movie of this, I was skeptical, because in the show, neither Jaimie nor Cathy ever share scenes together save for one wedding scene in the middle. I was further skeptical when I heard that they were going to have them in every scene together.

Well, I saw the film on demand last night and I have to say, first let's speak about the music. The reason I loved the music so much was because it had such small orchestrations and no drums. I was afraid that adding drums, more strings, and more electric guitar would take away the chamber feel of the sound, but on the contrary, it actually enhanced it. Second of all, they chose two great singers who were able to sing most of the score live, and I have to give props to Anna Kendrick, who is probably the best Cathy I have seen and heard. Also, props for not cutting a single musical number, and they didn't have to because the show was an hour and a half to begin with.

Now for everything else. The new dialog between the songs hardly added anything to the film. I'm mainly concerned with Cathy's dialog during the Shmuel Song. Also, in the play, every song Cathy sang took place when she was going backwards, but a few parts of her songs, mainly "When You Come Home..." and the final part of "Climbing Uphill", seemed to take place in chronological order. Also, that whole fantasy sequence in Shiksa Goddess with all of Jaimie's Jewish girlfriends was way too unnecessary, as was that brief dance scene during "Moving Too Fast".

Other than those things, I thought it was very well done.
Interesting concept, highly recommended8/10
Full disclosure: I didn't see the play the play before I saw this movie at the Toronto Film Festival. However, there were MANY fans of the play in the audience, and judging from the reaction and the questions and comments directed to director John LaGravenese and Jeremy Jordan (!!!) who came out after the film finished, they really enjoyed. I also looked up about the play and watched several videos of a few different versions of the play. Also for those who do really love the play and are unsure about how this movie is going to turn out, know 2 things in advance: 1) For the most part, Cathy and Jamie sing with the each other, and we are shown the opposite character's expressions and reactions. I think this was a good decision, and I think it worked out really well 2) LaGravenese stated that the movie is based (essentially copied from) the off-Broadway revival directed by writer James Robert Brown. So there are some changes from the previous off-Broadway production with Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott However, all in all, I really enjoyed this movie. Both Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan are wonderful as Cathy and Jamie. Their story was easy to relate to and sympathetic. I also found the concept of the opposing timelines very interesting, and although it's a bit hard to explain to someone who doesn't know it, I never felt lost or confused with the timelines. I felt, however, with Cathy starting the movie with song "Still Hurting", it made me side with her slightly more than I did with Jamie. But I liked the majority of the songs, although there were a few that slowed the pace too much, like "Part of That". My favorite performance was "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You"- I particularly liked the staging of it. If you enjoy an intriguing story being told through song with an interesting concept,I highly recommend The Last Five Years.