Film Review: The Last Five Years


Based on the musical, Richard LaGravense’s The Last Five Years is an experiment that pays off for the most part. The film is well executed.

Cathy, a struggling actress, looks back at her five year relationship with writer Jamie. Meanwhile, Jamie’s perspective sees the relationship from the beginning to the end…

Richard LaGravenese’s cinematic adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years offers something different in its format. LaGravenese employs an undercutting device to tell the story. Rather than a traditional film musical where songs mingle with spoken dialogue, the story of The Last Five Years is told exclusively in song.

As a cinematic experiment, The Last Five Years is broadly successful. Songs in the film are decent for the most part, although they are not particularly memorable. The film mixes upbeat numbers with more reflective ballads. Pacing also works well; the film manages to tell its story in detail without dragging. Performances from the two protagonists are strong. Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan exhibit good chemistry as well as decent voices.

LaGravenese’s direction is good throughout the film. The cinematography also works well, although the reliance on movement is dizzying at times. The Last Five Years does however have a fluidity that works to its advantage.

Storytelling in the film is interesting. The narrative jumps from Anna’s to Jamie’s perspective frequently. Whilst Cathy begins her telling of the story from the present working back in time, Jamie commences at the beginning. This provides an interesting frisson. Not only is the story told from both perspective, but the jumping around in the time frame allows viewers to really see the changes in the characters and their relationship.

The depth of feeling between the two protagonists is effectively conveyed in The Last Five Years. Emotion increases as the film continues. Some viewers will find the film identifiable, although it is not quite the tearjerker some audiences would expect. Humour in the film is slight, but effective where it is employed.

With its reliance on singing over dialogue, The Last Five Years is a bit of an acquired taste. Nevertheless, musical fans are likely to be pleased by Richard LaGravense’s offering.

The Last Five Years will be screened at Empire Leicester Square in London from Friday 17th April 2015. It will be released on VOD on 1st May 2015, and on DVD on 4th May 2015.

Stuff To Look At

This week we have plenty of clips and trailers for next year’s releases, including Inherent Vice, Jupiter Ascending and A Little Chaos

A Little Chaos

Period drama A Little Chaos is about the unlikely landscape architect of the Palace of Versailles. Directed, co-writtend and starring Alan Rickman, the film focuses on Kate Winslet’s Madame Sabine de Barra. A Little Chaos is out in cinemas on 17th April 2015.

Inherent Vice

Here is a brief clip from the upcoming Inherent Vice. Paul Thomas Anderson’s film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, and Reese Witherspoon among others. Inherent Vice is released in UK cinemas on 30th January 2015.

Mad Max: Fury Road

This Mad Max: Fury Road trailer caused quite a storm when it was unleashed last week. From the trailer at least, the film is striking on a visual level. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road hits the big screen on 15th May 2015.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and Clark Duke return for time-travelling comedy sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2. After the success of the first film, the group venture into the future, as well as the distant past in this instalment. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is released in UK cinemas on 10th April 2015.

Jupiter Ascending

Here is an extended V spot for upcoming science fiction blockbuster Jupiter Ascending. I can’t get over Channing Tatum’s ears. Also starring Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne, Jupiter Ascending hits UK screens on 6th February 2015.

The Last Five Years

Based on the theatre show, The Last Five Years is a musical which tells the story of a five-year relationship. Anna Kendrick once again shows off her vocal skills, following Pitch Perfect and the upcoming Into The Woods. The Last Five Years is scheduled for release in Spring 2015.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sees the cast from the first film reunited, along with newcomer Richard Gere. This follow-up sees Dev Patel’s Sonny open a second hotel. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is set for release on 26th February 2015.