Monday, February 09, 2015
THE LAST FIVE YEARS, which opens this week in New York, LA, and maybe your town if TRANSFORMERS 5 isn’t still playing, is a small but delightful movie musical. (I understand it may also be available on VOD.) If you’re into musicals or are already familiar with the show this is just your dish, but even if you’re only a casual fan of people breaking out into song in Manhattan without being arrested (like me) you’ll thoroughly enjoy this film.
Before I discuss the story and the score, let’s first get to the big reason to see it: ANNA KENDRICK.
LAST FIVE YEARS is essentially a two-hander, and Jeremy Jordon holds his own nicely, but Anna Kendrick is luminous. You’ve heard her sing in PITCH PERFECT and (for those that saw it) INTO THE WOODS, and you’ve seen her act in UP IN THE AIR. There’s no question, she’s the real deal. And in this film she just lights up the screen. She’s funny, touching, adorable, heartbreaking, and playful, which is hard to do all in one song.
The story itself is rather ingenious. It follows the five year relationship of a young couple, Cathy & Jamie, but through each of their sides. In Jamie’s case the show moves from the beginning to the end of their relationship. In Cathy’s version it goes from the break-up to their meeting. In the theatrical version, they alternate scenes, singing solo on stage. The only time the two actually are on stage together is when their stories intersect in the middle.
What writer/director Richard LaGravenese has cleverly devised is a way to have them both in every scene, and it makes all the difference in the world seeing them able to relate to each other throughout. (And it means more screen time for Anna.)
The story is told almost entirely in song.
For that to work, obviously the songs better be great. And in this case, they are. Written by Jason Robert Brown (who has more Tonys than shelf space), and semi-autobiographical, the songs are filled with emotion, keen observations, humor, and depth. I saw a preview of the film and would cheerfully see it again. You couldn’t drag me to see LES MISERABLES a second time.
Assuming it’s playing in your city… or state or you can access VOD, check out LAST FIVE YEARS. Did I mention it stars Anna Kendrick?
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM