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.
When Jenny (Anna Kendrick) breaks up with her boyfriend she moves in with her brother Kevin (Mark Webber) and his wife Kelly (Melanie Lynskey) who are raising their young son, turning their lives on their head as she’s not the most responsible person.
Happy Christmas is a low-key family drama that focuses on its leads and allows them the space to shine. It also features one of the happiest babies I’ve ever seen in a film. A lot of the interactions between the cast and the baby seem incredibly organic, as they react to his antics. It’s really sweet and true to life. That’s the thing about Happy Christmas, due to the script, how it’s shot and the cast, it feels like you’re a spectator in their day to day lives.
Jenny is an interesting character as she does little to endear you from the start, getting incredibly drunk and then being unable to babysit the next day, but she does slowly start to grow though she retains her selfish streak. Again, it great to see a character somewhat mature of a short space of time but they still retain qualities that are uniquely them.
Jenny’s relationship with Kelly is really the heart of the film. They are almost polar opposites in personality, but they find common-ground and begin to care about each other. Jenny teaches Kelly there’s more to her than being a wife and mother, and Kelly shows Jenny that good things can happen if you put more of an effort into life it can make you happy.
Happy Christmas is one of those alternate Christmas films. At its heart it’s about family and relationships, but nothing about the characters and their stories are too perfect or cliché. It’s a true to life comedy and it’s well worth the watch. 3/5.
OK, I’m cheating on this one a bit. After much googling I realised that while there were a few actresses whose name does begin with “X” I hadn’t seen any of their work. I also looked into whether there was a female led production company or anything like that but I couldn’t find anything. So today I’m going to write a line or two about some of the actresses who narrowly missed out on being featured in my April A-Z challenge.
Anna Kendrick – Anna Kendrick is just lovely isn’t she? She’s funny and pretty and smart. I’ve liked every film I’ve seen her in – or in the case of the Twilight films, I really liked her performance, the films not so much. My favourite film of hers is probably Drinking Buddies (2013).
Sandra Bullock – Sandra Bullock is great at both comedy and drama. I know some of her films aren’t that great, like Premonition (2007) for example but then there’s a film like The Heat (2013) or The Blind Side (2009) and which are amazing.
Kat Dennings – Kat’s just gorgeous and I’ve loved everything she’s been in, especially Daydream Nation (2010) and Thor (2011) – Darcy Lewis is a brilliant and realistic character.
Julia Roberts – I grew up watching Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1990) and it’s one of those films that Ii can watch over and over and quote all the lines. The most recent thing I’ve seen Julia Roberts in that I loved was The Normal Heart (2014), she and the entire cast was amazing in it.
Noomi Rapace – Noomi Rapace is incredibly talented. I’ve only watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) out of the trilogy – I’ve read all the books and am looking forward to watching the rest of the films. I wasn’t over keen on Prometheus (2012) but Noomi was great in it.
Paula Patton – I’m really gutted that it appears that Paula Patton won’t be in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation because I loved her so much in Mission: Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011). I know nothing about World of Warcraft but I am looking forward to the film adaptation next year because Paula Patton and a lot of other actors I like are in it.
Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) works in a bathtub factory in a small town and just wants to fit in – though hearing his pets talk to him doesn’t really help him much. He becomes interested in his colleague Fiona (Gemma Arterton) but his interest takes a deadly turn and his life spirals out of control as he struggles to deal with the consequences of his actions. His dog Bosco tries to be the voice of reason while his cat Mr. Whiskers encourages Jerry to do evil deeds.
The Voices is a tough film to talk about as it doesn’t really fit any typical genres, it’s a dark comedy but it’s also a horror film and it deals with mental illness too and its tone shifts from one aspect to another within a blink of an eye. Some people will hate that, some will love it – I was one of the later. It’s also a hard film to talk about as it’s hard not to go into spoiler territory – if anything it’s best going into The Voices knowing as little as possible.
Ryan Reynolds is brilliant as Jerry as he manages to balance his dark side with his earnestly wanting to be good. He manages to make a guy who is a killer somewhat sympathetic, which is definitely a weird thing to feel when watching a film about a murderer. I think this is one of Reynold’s best performances to date (I haven’t seen Buried) and it’s something that definitely shows his range.
The Voices also stars Anna Kendrick as Lisa, one of Jerry’s work colleagues who fancies him and she’s incredibly sweet and naïve. Her scenes with Arterton and Reynolds are great and really all three off the main cast bounce off each other really well but this is Reynolds movie.
I can’t not talk about Mr. Whiskers and Bosco – they are both incredibly funny and in the case of Mr. Whiskers enjoys to swear a lot. Their interactions with Jerry are some of the highpoints of the film.
The Voices is funny, dark, weird and stylised. Some will love it, others will hate it. The allusions to mental illness and schizophrenia may rub some people the wrong way but I think it was handled pretty well. The sudden shifts in tone were sometimes jarring but did add to the overall feel of the film. 5/5.
I’ve put the trailer in my review because that’s what I normally do but I’d really recommend not watching it as it does give some surprises away.