The other other Anna Kendrick musical this year, The Last Five Years follows on from Into the Woods and proceeds Pitch Perfect 2. Sadly, for the most part, this one feels very much like ‘filler’ material.
Following the tumultuous relationship between Jamie Wellerstien (Jeremy Jordan) and Cathy Hiatt (Anna Kendrick), the film skips back and forth in time to tell the story of a doomed romance. Cathy and Jamie fall instantly for one another after a night of passion and move into together. At first he struggles to support the aspiring actress, but soon after Jamie finds himself the toast of the town as his book becomes an international best-seller. Struggling with her own career, cracks begin to appear in their marriage.
The action is punctuated by forgettable ballads, and the random order in which we see events unfold don’t help the flow of the film. The narrative is deliberately jumbled, yet we never really get a sense of why. The highs and lows showcased want to deliver a profound message, but end up infuriating with their smugness.
The power shift in the relationship, once Jamie becomes a famous writer, takes on a fantasy element and as such make it hard to relate to an everyday relationship. The issues are there, but the twist taken on the given situation are too extreme to appeal universally.
Kendrick remains eminently watchable. Her character garners easy sympathy from the audience, but its too lazy a dissection of the moral questions posed to round out Cathy. Jordan’s take on Jamie is even more insufferable. He lacks personality on screen, both as an actor and in character. The safety-net of a great voice is cut off for both performers as the songs they sing are utterly bland.
The ambition behind this movie is at least lofty. There is a clear hope to ape the success of the likes of 500 days of Summer, yet the lack of creativity is jarring. Aside from the dubious chronology of what we see, this is a straight made-for-TV movie with sub-standard musical numbers by the bucketload.
It’s obvious from the outset that this is based on a stage musical. The sets and locations could well have been lifted straight from Broadway, and a few cyber-sex sessions fail to add any energy to proceedings.
The truly annoying thing is that you can actually see the basis for a genuinely engaging film in the ensuing mess. The structure cold have worked, and better songs would have helped a huge amount. Director Richard LaGravenese has some form, although whether you think it is good high-pedigree or not will depend on your tolerance for the soppy PS, I Love You.
Long-delayed, if you really want to see The Last Five Years you’ll be happy to wait a bit longer to watch it at home and not fork out the price of a cinema ticket.
The Last Five Years will be released exclusively at The Empire Leicester Square on 17 April; VOD on 1 May and DVD on 4 May 2015. Cinema tickets are now available for pre-booking here: www.L5Ytickets.co.uk