The Last Five Years (2014)
February 13, 2015 7:46 AM - Subscribe

Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan star in an intimate musical about falling in love and growing apart. Based on a popular off-Broadway show.

The two characters alternate songs as they tell the story in different directions. Her songs start at the end and move backward; his songs start at the beginning and move toward the heartbreak. Directed by Richard LaGravanese, songs by Jason Robert Brown.

Official Site

Trailer on YouTube

It's opening in very limited release today, but is also on and iTunes
posted by dnash (20 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I wanted to post this here hoping to plug it a bit, because I think it's quite good. I saw it back in the fall at the Chicago Film Festival when they featured it. I'd never heard of the stage show, but apparently it has a massive cult following among serious devotees of musical theater. The audience that night was FULL of people who already knew every song - the kind of thing where if the movie turns out bad, they will get mean. But they seemed to like it quite a bit. Lots of jerked tears.

If you seriously hate musicals, you should skip this. It's music and singing, start to finish, almost no spoken dialogue. If you like musicals at all, give it a shot. I think it's great to see a musical that's not the big blockbustery things like Les Miz, Chicago, etc.
posted by dnash at 9:09 AM on February 13, 2015

I'm really looking forward to this. Big Kendrick fan, and Jeremy Jordan was great when I saw him in Newsies.

I'm not super familiar with the musical world but apparently Jason Robert Brown is a huge deal to those in the know.
posted by kmz at 9:32 AM on February 13, 2015

There's definitely a cult. As a card-carrying member, I'm not sure I'll see the movie, but I'm following the reviews closely, and they're overall very positive. I hope it's a huge success.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 9:39 AM on February 13, 2015

And if you're into that kind of thing, look for cameos by Jason Robert Brown (composer) and Sherie Rene Scott (original off-Broadway Cathy).
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 9:44 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

I heard people in the audience talking about the cameos on the way out of the theater. I of course had no idea who they were.

I was really disappointed this morning to see on the official site just how ridiculously tiny the theatrical release of this seems to be. At least it's on demand right away, I guess. I think word of mouth could really help this.

(Or maybe it's just the latest in my string of "movies I love that I keep trying to foist on others who don't end up loving them the way I do...")
posted by dnash at 9:54 AM on February 13, 2015

I enjoyed the stage production (though I saw it when Signature Theater put it on here in the DC area, not the original NY production) but -

Well, let me see if this is me here. I, personally, find the story portrays one of the characters as much less likeable than the other. I enjoyed the music and think the conceit (I like it so I'll call it that rather than a gimmick) works well. But I came away with a pretty clear feeling of one person being more at fault for the relationship's failure than the other, which made me like it less.

That a reaction and/or issue anyone else had from it? I like Kendrick enough that I'll give it another watch and see if the movie version works the same way for me.
posted by phearlez at 10:22 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

phearlez, no, it's not just you. I feel the same way, and have seen at least a few online discussions of who's more at fault for the breakup, and also of who's more sympathetic overall. But it's definitely not one-sided - either among the people who base their opinions on what each character said or did, or among the people who just like one or the other based on that they have better songs.

I personally feel like the structure really biases the audience in favor of one of the characters, but reading other peoples' opinions, it's clearly not all that cut and dried.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:59 PM on February 13, 2015

I'll say that when I saw it back in the fall I didn't particularly feel one sided in either direction. Have read a few comments lately, mostly of the "Jamie's a jerk" variety. Listening to the soundtrack this week, I came up with some thoughts on the matter but feel like I want to actually see the whole thing again to be fair before I say more.
posted by dnash at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2015

I love this musical! I was going to see it at its premiere at TIFF, but it turned out the main showing was the afternoon after my wedding...and it's not really a post-wedding celebration show. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

(I will never get over briefly making eye contact with Jason Robert Brown during previews of 13, which I was going my grad school theatre PR project on, and being such a fangirl that I panicked and essentially ran away.)
posted by ilana at 6:44 PM on February 13, 2015

I love this musical A LOT and was worried about it working on film - but it does work, brilliantly. In a few scenes, I think the film actually elevates the song and makes it work BETTER. This is basically unheard of when it comes to film musicals, which often seem to lessen everything about them.

What I really love about the show is that having seen three productions and listened to the original Off-Broadway soundtrack a lot, I go back and forth with who is most at fault. And honestly, I don't think that is even the POINT. But I do love that it's so insightful, it makes people think. And I don't think the film really comes down on one side or the other. (I think there's a particular thing you can point at and say - LOOK, HE'S A JERK - but I think that discounts all the other context.)

Anyway, I was so thrilled by the film, I blogged my thoughts - just to get them in some kind of order and so I didn't just think about the film for days. See it in the cinema if you can or On Demand, wherever it's available.
posted by crossoverman at 9:07 PM on February 14, 2015

If anyone hears any updates regarding a UK release (online or in cinemas) please let me know because I am desperate to see this movie!
posted by dumdidumdum at 11:12 AM on February 15, 2015

I cannot WAIT! Some of y'all's comments have given me hope, I admit I was afraid to see it. I have loved the musical for 10+ years at this point and seen a production of it; hopefully someone's showing it around here.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:01 AM on February 16, 2015

dumdidumdum, are any of the options on this page available to you?
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 11:53 AM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

And I don't think the film really comes down on one side or the other. (I think there's a particular thing you can point at and say - LOOK, HE'S A JERK - but I think that discounts all the other context.)

I thought about this a lot since re-watching over the weekend.

--SPOILERS below--

The tricky thing is that Jamie has two points where he actually does something jerky. And one of them - flying to Ohio but not even staying the night - given the structure of the piece, the audience sees quite early, before they really know anything about him at all. If a viewer isn't careful to suspend judgement about that scene until much later, when they have the rest of the story, I can imagine it's possible some folks might start off thinking "wow he's a selfish prick" and never warm to the charming things we get to see later. His second big bad moment is the sleeping with other women. But if you put the pieces back together in chronological order, both of those things happen quite close to the end of things. So it's not like he's been sleeping around the whole time - it's something he falls into at the point where he's already pretty much given up anyway.

But those are actions you can point to as clear evidence of his part of the failure. With Cathy, you kind of have to assemble bits and pieces of inferences and subtext. The only action we see her do that points at where she may be in the wrong is when she won't go to a publicity party for his book again. Which doesn't sound so terrible, on its own. But when you add it to other things said, mostly by Jamie but also in her own lyrics, you build up the picture that Cathy is not handling the disparity in their levels of creative success very well at all. When Jamie says "I will not fail so you can be comfortable" it's a way harsh statement, but I think at least on some level it's true. Not that she consciously wants him to fail, but that his growing success is making her feel like more of a failure by comparison. And that's not something he can really fix for her.

I think that's what's behind some of the "Jamie's just a jerk" comments I've seen, maybe. Because it's easy to see where he goes wrong, and maybe seeing that can block the empathy needed to see things from his side, to begin to see where her more general actions are what's driving him even further away in the first place.
posted by dnash at 1:52 PM on February 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I actually came away from the piece thinking that Cathy was far less sympathetic. She handles the success disparity poorly and I found her far less supportive of Jamie's career than he is of hers. It's been about half a year since I last listened to the recording but I felt like she was hypocritical when wanting him to accept things for her advancement but not willing to do so for him.

Which isn't to forgive him his crap, but I found myself far more exasperated with a pattern of behavior from Cathy than Jamie cheating when everything is going to hell already anyway.
posted by phearlez at 6:43 PM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Just dropping in to say that the songwriting in this is incredibly moving. I saw the movie on Amazon and it was my first exposure to the work and to Jason Robert Brown. I haven't been able to stop listening to or thinking about the soundtrack for the past week. Kendrick and Jordan sing their asses off and do it powerfully (and clearly, which I think is an often overlooked factor in musicals, whether on stage or screen). I think the movie is executed really well. It's faithful to the source material to a T, but allows the characters to interact and be in each other's scenes so we can readily see the human connection, rather than having to infer it as in the experimental-ish stage setup. I think it works especially well for the Schmuel Song, which according to some reviews I've read, was perceived as a "clunker" in the stage play but in the movie I think it's rather moving and one of my favorite parts, one of the few (perhaps too few, as others have mentioned) moments that show Jamie's appeal and redeeming qualities.
posted by Pfardentrott at 2:43 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I always found Cathy less sympathetic as well. Some of it may be my own baggage and history, but honestly, it's probably just that Jamie got all the best songs (imo). But I can handle Jamie's cheating more than that Cathy (from the lyrics, I still haven't seen the movie) pressured him into moving in together, and then immediately started finding fault with him.

But to get back to the actual movie: here are two of what seem like a lot of articles coming out about it.
an interview with director Richard LaGravenese
an interesting column about some of the specifics of the film
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 2:46 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

Thanks for that link to the interview, still_wears_a_hat!

I was a that Chicago Film Festival screening mentioned in it, and the interview reminded me of an exchange during the Q&A after. LaGravanese had introduced the film with some words about how the show was one much beloved by people who are seriously into musicals. So after, someone asked "what did you do to make the movie perhaps more accessible to people who aren't usually into musicals?"

Answer: "I didn't."

That's a huge part of why I think it works so well, because he was willing to just say "no, this piece is exactly what it is, and we're not going to try and stretch it into some other concept of what a movie or a musical should be in order to appeal to some lower denominator than the audience who already knows how to like this sort of thing." That kind of artistic integrity is kinda inspiring to me.
posted by dnash at 5:17 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

dumdidumdum, they just announced a UK release date of April 17.

Let us know what you think of it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 9:57 AM on March 13, 2015

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