One of the best musicals in years has snuck quietly onto iTunes and the art house circuit. Based on one of the theatre's best-loved but lesser known musicals with a big cult base, THE LAST FIVE YEARS is smart, sweet and powerful.
Anna Kendrick stars as Kathy, a young, talented actress/singer trying to make it on Broadway one audition at a time. She meets Jamie, a young author who hits it big on his first try. They have a whirlwind romance but find themselves pulled apart as their focuses shift in different directions dealing with fame, jealously and separation.
The genius of the musical is that it tells the story in alternate scenes from opposite ends of the relationship.
As the film opens, Cathy sings "Still Hurting" dealing with the end of their marriage as she packs up their NYC apartment. The next scene is Jamie happily singing "Shiksa Goddess" at the start of their love affair, with both of them deep in the intense first days of love.
The film continues, with every other scene tracking Cathy from the end to the beginning of their love and Jamie's scenes following the linear trail of their time together.
It's not as complicated as it might sound and offers a creative new perspective on the arc of a relationship.
The entire film is sung through with the powerful words and music of Tony winner Jason Robert Brown adapting his stage musical and Richard LaGravenese (Water for Elephants, Beloved) directing for the screen.
Both men have gone out of the way to not dumb down the material for the screen, leaving the storytelling challenging and dramatic.
When the two stories meet in the middle with Jamie's proposal, it makes it all the more powerful knowing what lies ahead (and behind) for the couple.
Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Into The Woods) and Jeremy Jordan (Newsies on Broadway) are both terrific.
This is the musical for people that don't like musicals, but if you appreciate them as much as Tamara and I do, you'll love THE LAST FIVE YEARS too. It gets an A.