A Relationship in Song – The Last Five Years (2014)

Terrific music.  So this is about a relationship between an actress (Anna Kendrick) and a writer (Jeremy Jordan).  We get to see the most noteworthy moments in their lives together, some are high points and others are lows.  Now I’ve never seen the theatrical production of which this is based on, but I know of it, and I’ve heard a song or two along the way because this just so happens to be one of my wife’s favorite musicals.  This movie was my first true exposure to the story as a whole, and I must say: I couldn’t help but be impressed.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though…

The material is great, and it is really just a two person show.  While there are extra faces in the movie for practicality’s sake, I know that the stage production only features the two leads and that is it.  These are roles that actors want to play because both parts call for a large range of not only singing abilities, but performance abilities as well, as both characters are written to have a lot of personality and realistic flaws.  I think this was perfectly cast.  This is exactly the thing that Anna Kendrick excels at naturally, and it makes those Pitch Perfect movies look like a complete waste of time if she has the abilities that she showcases here at her disposal.  I can’t say that I was familiar with Jeremy Jordan, but he positively won me over.  It’s not one person’s story over the others, and they both bring it to make a great overall product.

Behind the scenes during the filming of "The Last 5 Years"This is pretty much what Kendrick was born to do.

Even without seeing this on stage, I am willing to say that this translates wonderfully to the screen.  I like the structure of it, as it jumps around between the highs and the lows, blending them together in the same fashion that (500) Days of Summer did back in 2009.  The music is exceptional, and it is just as much the star as either one of the leads.  I really enjoyed how it is a story that doesn’t really take sides, and anyone who has been in one that’s worthwhile will tell you that relationships are hard work; sometimes you can’t help how you feel, and you’ve got to try your damnedest if you don’t want to see life pull you apart.  This is not an uplifting tale, which is the main reason I feel that audiences didn’t respond a bit more affirmatively, but it never bothered me personally.  You can see the chemistry right there on the screen between Kendrick and Jordan which allows you to invest in the relationship, and I think this is one of the better movies the year.

The Last Five Years (2014) ****

– Critic for Hire

Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2015?  See for yourself here.


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