When I found out last week that my local theatre was putting on a production of Jason Robert Brown’s ‘The Last 5 Years‘ I thought that it was about time that I finally sit down and watch the 2014 film adaptation.
Following the story of Cathy (Anna Kendrick) and Jamie (Jeremy Jordan), The Last 5 Years documents the love between these two, highlighting the struggles that a relationship can have when one person’s career takes flight, whilst the other’s seems to be regressing.
Now it took me a long time (too long if I’m honest) to figure out the genius of this musical. The story starts with Kendrick’s character lamenting the failure of her relationship in a moving rendition of ‘Still Hurting’, reading a letter from husband, Jamie, declaring their marriage over. Cut to 5 years earlier and Jamie recounts the first time he and Cathy met. Whilst Cathy is telling their story from end to beginning, Jamie recounts their tale from beginning to end. They are literally going in opposite directions.
There is a singular moment during the entire play during which their stories meet and it has to be one of my favourite pieces of the entire musical. ‘The Next Ten Minutes’ is the only duet during the entire 90 minutes, the one moment that the two stories meet. This is the moment that caused me to realise that the two were telling the story in opposing directions! Jamie begins the song with answers to questions that we have yet to hear, which then at the end, Cathy asks.
As a massive fan of Anna Kendrick I was a bit nervous about her being cast in this film. Being her first singing role since the hit sensation that was Pitch Perfect, the style of music in this film is vastly different and requires a powerful vocal range. Man did Kendrick deliver. Her rendition of ‘See I’m Smiling’ is my favourite song of the entire musical, with Cathy cheerful that Jamie is able to visit her for her Birthday weekend in Ohio, until she finds out that he’s leaving that very day. The following verse slays me every time I hear it:
I swear to God I’ll never understandHow you can stand there straight and tallAnd see I’m cryingAnd not do anything at all
As if anyone could just stand there while Anna Kendrick is crying and NOT give her a hug…I don’t know how that’s possible.
Jeremy Jordan is famous for his performances on stage, but this film truly captured the true range and depth that his voice can bring. A standout in this film for me was his performance of ‘If I Didn’t Believe In You’, which I found out post-viewing that he sang in one take! That guy’s got some serious pipes on him! The variety of emotions that he was able to convey those 5 minutes was a staggering achievement.
The only aspect of the film that really let it down was the filming style. A lot of the filming seemed to be done using hand-held camera work and it really didn’t work for me. There were parts where they were filming in such small spaces (Cathy and Jamie’s apartment) and we were treated to mega close-ups of faces.
I’m taking my Mum to see it at the theatre on Friday and I’m really looking forward to seeing the difference between the film and the stage show. I can imagine that it will transition a little smoother on the stage. The one thing I am worried about is whether I’ll be able to separate the theatre production from the film (which is why I read the books before I watch the film!). I’ll keep you posted!