Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Last Five Years (Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan)


Movie musicals are a most beloved art form for me.  Hollywood genius in this arena usually comes in waves.  And, usually, successful stage productions will garner support for a movie adaptation.  I guess such is the case with the off-Broadway musical, The Last Five Years (TLFY) by Jason Robert Brown. Unfortunately, I have not seen the stage production because, well, I did not know about it.  So, this is my review of the movie alone.

Directed by Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I Love You), The Last Five Years is a story of a five-year relationship between Jamie (Jeremy Jordan, NBC's Smash) and Cathy (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect), going from meeting to dating to marriage to separation, all told through song in less than two hours. 

"Summer in Ohio"
TLFY had its clever musical moments for sure, especially its little shout out to The Sound of Music (still rotfl).  Cathy's "Ohio" song was pretty cute and snarky, but then again when is Kendrick not playing someone snarky (I suppose in Up in the Air her character was.... no, no she played a snob there too). Jamie's song about "Believing" in Cathy struck myriad a deep chords, especially that lyric: "I won't fail to make you feel comfortable / I will not lose so that you can win." I felt Jaime's distress in that scene and my heart did ache for the couple in that moment.

Poster for Theatrical Performance (2001)
On the other hand, TLFY was not a compelling cinematic experience overall for me.  It lacked something, maybe it was depth.  I cannot quite describe it, but the atmosphere of the movie felt claustrophobic and thin.  Maybe the director wanted this.  I do not know.  But I felt like the movie, the music would have benefited from the richness of a variety of voices, or maybe a comparable relationship or two, or maybe just give these two some friends!  I mean, no wonder they are at each other's throats if they are all wrapped up in one another, forsaking all others because they think they are "Better Than That."  Yes, there were a couple memorable songs, but without a proper breather of actual dialogue between the only two characters, or meeting other interesting characters with voices (literally, the main characters sing over the voices of others who we see talking to them), it leaves the movie element feeling superficial and the musical element thin.

Musical lovers beware: if you understand that a true musical has depth, you may not find much of that in The Last Five Years.

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