Struggling actress Cathy (Anna Kendrick) and her successful novelist boyfriend Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) each tell the story of their love.
The Last Five Years is a little hard to wrap your head around at the beginning and that’s because it’s got two stories running parallel to each other. Cathy’s story is told in reverse, from when their relationship ends to the joys of falling in love, while Jamie’s is linear, going from their relationship beginning to the struggles and its end. The story bounces back and forth between the different moments of time as Cathy and Jamie take turns singing a song from their point of view. The colours of characters clothes and the general lighting helps you figure out where you are in their relationship as everything is so much brighter when they’re in love, compared to when their relationship is going downhill. Once you get used to this story technique The Last Five Years is enjoyable, it just takes a while o get settled into it.
The opening five minutes of The Last Five Years is fantastic and unfortunately the rest of the film never really lives up to that emotional performance. Anna Kendrick is just brilliant, as she sings with a broken heart, and the song “Still Hurting” is beautiful and powerful. While it’s definitely one of the saddest songs in the musical, it’s also the most powerful and memorable one. While the songs are generally nice, unfortunately for a musical, nice isn’t good enough and The Last Five Years doesn’t have a particularly memorable soundtrack. The songs are solid, but the melodies are quite similar so besides the great opener, not many of them stand out.
Kendrick and Jordan are both very charming and have great chemistry but it’s unfortunate that the story doesn’t treat it’s two lead characters the same. Cathy is sweet, supportive, and tries her best while Jamie has a whole song about how it sucks that he’s now married to Cathy as it means he can’t cheat with all the women who suddenly want to sleep with him. It makes the story unbalanced but also interesting because as the story progresses you see how Cathy and Jamie’s interests, wants, and dreams no longer line up and maybe they never really did.
The Last Five Years is a sweet musical with a very realistic take on relationships and how the two people in a relationship can feel differently about each other at different times. While the songs and performances are good, there’s little that makes this film stand out. 3/5.
I love The Last Five Years, and I think Kendrick and Jordan play the roles well. Unfortunately, the cool concept of one person’s story going reverse chronologically is lost on a lot of people because it’s not done well in this movie. If you didn’t know going in, you probably wouldn’t pick it up. On stage, it’s done a bit better because Cathy and Jamie stay on separate sides of the stage, only coming together at their wedding before crossing over and separating again.
You mentioned that the songs all kind of sound similar, and you’re not wrong because there are a lot of repeating melodies and bits, but I’ve come to appreciate that more now that I know the soundtrack by heart and can differentiate between songs.
All the staging stuff is really interesting and I didn’t know that.
While I’ve not listened to the soundtrack in its entirety, I’ve listened to “Still Hurting” almost once a day since I watched the film so that song definitely made a lasting impression!