The Last Five Years is a musical that follows the relationship of wannabe-Broadway star, Cathy (Anna Kendrick) and up-and-coming author, Jamie (Jeremy Jordan). Each song represents a stage in their relationship and the narrative skips through time as you see them fall in and out of love.
First things first, the music in this is fantastic. Jason Robert Brown creates a heartbreaking story that doesn’t require anything except the music and the believability of the couple. This is where Kendrick and Jordan shine in both departments. They most handle vocally challenging numbers with ease, and look great together while they do it.
There are cameos by some of the original cast and Jeremy Jordan’s actual wife, Ashley Spencer, who may have probably been a better Cathy than Kendrick, but it wouldn’t have attracted any attention except Broadway people like me. Of course, Cathy is supposed to be an aspiring Broadway actress, so to make her the best singer in the film wouldn’t make sense. She’s great, but she’s a much better actress than singer. Unpopular opinion. It’s only because alongside Jeremy Jordan, a Broadway veteran, he just handles the numbers better. Still, Jordan has the opposite problem; he is a better singer than a film actor. However, this performance is the so much better than his previous roles, like in NBC’s Smash, where he knocked every number out of the park but was either the blandest or over-acting actor in every scene. Together though, the perfectly balance each other and it really creates a fantastic piece.
I watch this movie all the time, and this must have been my tenth viewing since hunting down an independent theater in the city to see it on the big screen. It never gets old for me. It does what most movie musicals, and regular musicals, don’t do. They create a story out of only music. There are very few scenes of dialogue that aren’t a part of a song. Which Les Miserables does onstage, but when translated to the film genre it failed miserably. This of course was due to bad casting and a heavy runtime, and The Last Five Years doesn’t have either of those issues. The casting is great, and it’s only an hour and 34 minutes long.
This is a short review, but I can promise this is a solid watch. If you hate musicals, maybe this isn’t for you. But the songs are beautiful, the numbers are visually beautiful (especially “A Summer in Ohio” at least watch that one) and you feel like you’re watching two people find and lose each other. Both main characters are flawed people but they feel real, and you root for them even you know it’s over by the first number. It’s not a spoiler it’s the first song I swear. But it’s absolutely beautiful and it will have you immediately adding its Spotify album to your queue. An easy, entertaining watch that I can watch over and over, and I bet you all can too.
Amy’s Recommendation: 10/10