Movie Musical Monday: The Last Five Years (2014)

The Last Five Years is a movie musical based on the stage musical of the same name. In short, it is the story of a relationship, from just after meeting to the failed marriage, over, well, you guessed it, the last five years.

The thing about this musical is that it is told in two different ways. One story line, Cathy’s, is told in reverse chronological order. Her story starts at the end of their marriage. Jamie, her husband, has his story told in chronological order, beginning just after the couple first meet. The film stars Anna Kendrick as Cathy and Jeremy Jordan as Jamie.

Now, the biggest flaw this film has, I think, is its timeline and the depiction of that. I was not familiar with the musical when I first watched this film. And it took me much longer than I’d like to admit to figure out how the timelines worked, mainly because there aren’t really any strong visual clues. Once I finished the film the first time, I looked up the musical. In the musical, the timelines are more obvious, as neither character is on stage together until their timelines meet in the middle. In the film, it feels more natural for the characters to be together during all of these scenes, but it makes it that much more confusing.

I will admit, this is a film that I enjoyed much more the second time. I still don’t think that it translates well from stage to screen. But, the music is crazy catchy, and the performances of both Kendrick and Jordan are wonderful. This film is bizarre, honestly, because neither character is super likeable. They each have very glaring flaws that can make it hard to sympathize with them. However, those large glaring flaws make the characters incredibly human, which, in a way, can make them relatable. And yes, I am aware that I described the characters as “hard to sympathize with” and “relatable” in the same breath. I stand by that.

If you’re like me, and had watched the film only once, and didn’t like it much, here’s my suggestion: just listen to the soundtrack. The music kept popping up on Spotify whenever I would listen. Eventually the songs just continue to get stuck in my head, which then made me want to rewatch the film. And, like I said above, I enjoyed it much more the second time.

What’s your thought on this movie musical adaptation? Have you watched it? Did you like it? Have you seen the stage musical? How does it really compare? I’d love to know!

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