Hidden Gems: The Last Five Years
Every year, many great movies fall under the radar of the public eye for one reason or another, yet they are worth your time and attention. A recent example is The Last Five Years, which is now available on VOD platforms.
The Last Five Years tells the story of Jamie and Cathy, a young couple who fall in and out of love. An adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s Off-Broadway musical, the film is largely faithful to its source material. Perfectly acted by Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, and beautifully shot, it is an emotional experience that serves as an antithesis to the stereotypes of Hollywood romance films.
Told nonlinearly, like the musical, we know things are going to be serious from Kendrick’s haunting rendition of the opening number, “Still Hurting”. Her Cathy sits alone in the dark, her eyes red and dry as she stares at photographs from the course of their relationship.
We’re then introduced to Jamie (Jordan), at the beginning of their relationship. He’s an aspiring novelist, she’s an aspiring actress, and they’ve both just moved to New York City looking for their big break. Their love is passionate and true. While Jamie quickly lands a publishing deal, leading to overnight fame and fortune, Cathy attends failed audition after failed audition.
Kendrick and Jordan are both perfectly cast. Together, their chemistry is electric, and their performances allow you to sympathize with each of them in spite of their flaws. The film is careful not to pin the blame solely on one or the other. What makes their story truly tragic is that while they both love each other very much, they are both to blame for the relationship’s end. Cathy is more jealous of her husband’s success than she is supportive, but Jamie puts more emphasis on his career than on his wife. Cathy shuts down when Jamie tries to be there for her, Jamie refuses to acknowledge whenever he’s made a mistake.
The cinematography and production design are both beautiful, giving the film a dreamlike quality. Scenes from early in the relationship are clad in bright, soft tones, where the later scenes are dark and harsh, as if from a nightmare. This is especially apparently towards the film’s end, where Jamie envisions the Cathy he first met as he packs his bags to leave.
As a musical, it is intimate and small compared to recent successes such as Les Miserables and Into the Woods, but the songs are still performed by Jordan and Kendrick with heart and soul. In fact, no songs were add, cut, or changed from the original musical, which may be a good or a bad thing depending on who you ask.
While a simple story on its surface, it has a lot to say within its brief running time, and will leave you with a lot to think about after its conclusion.
originally published at http://emertainmentmonthly.com/2015/02/20/review-the-last-five-years-is-heartbreaking-and-beautiful/ on February 20th, 2015