Cathy: Why am I working so hard? These are the people who cast Russell Crowe in a musical.
Richard LaGravenese (P.S. I LOVE YOU) delves into the darker territory of relationships with THE LAST FIVE YEARS. Adapted from the musical written by Jason Robert Brown that premiered in 2001 off Broadway, the film is now the topic of much discussion about whether the adaptation would work or not, especially with its choice of female lead, Anna Kendrick (DRINKING BUDDIES). Well, I’m happy to report that it does work and that THE LAST FIVE YEARS will surprise audiences not only with its incredible performances, but with its unusual narrative structure that plays with time and perspective.
Opening with a rather heartbreaking song (“Still Hurting”), we see Cathy (Kendrick) sitting alone in an apartment lamenting over a relationship that has just ended. Odd for a musical to begin this way, and it sets the tone for what is about to unfold. Then, we are immediately shown Cathy five years earlier, with her now ex-husband Jamie (Smash’s Jeremy Jordan, check out our exclusive interview here), and he is singing to her about how happy he is to have met her. The story follows an unusual narrative for musicals by showing Cathy’s perspective at the end of their relationship moving backwards through time, and Jamie’s from the beginning going forward. It was confusing at first, but the structure is one of the more intriguing parts of the movie, and actually works quite well in its screen adaptation, providing a great deal of insight into how their five year relationship went wrong.
The choice to cast Kendrick in the lead role had many people’s eyebrows raised, wondering if she could really handle the songs presented in a musical, as opposed to pop songs (like in PITCH PERFECT). As soon as we hear her belt out the opening number though, there is little doubt about her vocal skills. THE LAST FIVE YEARS is an incredibly simple story about a failed marriage, but the way it plays out is entertaining from beginning to end, complete with amazing performances and music that will stay with you long after its ended.