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Review: The Last Five Years

The Last Five Years
02.10.2015
2 10
THE LAST FIVE YEARS was originally reviewed as part of out TIFF 2014 coverage.

PLOT: A young actress (Anna Kendrick) and her novelist husband (Jeremy Jordan) try to make sense of their five year relationship.

REVIEW: There are some movies that – despite a level of respect for everyone involved and the audaciousness of the project – just play out like nails on chalkboard when projected to the big screen. This was the miserable experience I had with THE LAST FIVE YEARS. Within about thirty seconds into the first song, I knew I was in big trouble.

Whether or not you’re familiar with, or a fan of the stage play this is based on will likely play a big part in how well the film goes over with you. Speaking for myself, I’ve never even heard of the play, and if I had I probably would have stayed far away, with this being a kind of musical BLUE VALENTINE, examining the decline of a relationship, only minus the grit or compelling characters. The problem here is that I couldn’t care less whether or not Anna Kendrick’s struggling actress and Jeremy Jordan’s spoiled novelist would manage to patch up their relationship by the time the credits rolled. Both are among the most spoiled, narcissistic characters I’ve had the misfortune of watching on the big screen in a while, and I was rooting for their relationship to crumble, as it would have meant I could have escaped the theater sooner rather than later.

No such luck. THE LAST FIVE YEARS really was an agonizing experience, as I clutched the arms of my movie theater chair, determined to plow thorough the relatively scant ninety minute running time, which I should say felt endless. Not even the usually charming Kendrick could save this. While she works perfectly in zesty, pop-style musicals like PITCH PERFECT, I’m not sure if her voice is exactly Broadway ready. While the songs all sounded similarly mediocre, an amazing vocal performance might have brought something to this, but rather she just sounds bland. Kendrick’s strength really isn’t her voice, but rather her spunk or personality, neither of which shine through in this thinly written role (she’s angry because her husband is successful and she’s not – that’s about it).

Co-star Jeremy Jordan doesn’t fare much better, with him being a rather repellent character who lords his instant (and unlikely) literary success over everyone, while still finding time to constantly cheat on his wife, who seems to wrapped up in her own issues to notice. Again, this isn’t exactly a pair you’ll be aching to see live happily ever after.

Still, THE LAST FIVE YEARS might hold some interest to hard-core theater fans, and I’ll give it this, it’s ambitious. Director Richard LaGravanese hasn’t bowed to any commercial sensibilities, making this a 100% sung through film, with none of the numbers being especially catchy or having any real crossover appeal (I doubt the cast recording of this will burn up the iTunes charts). The unpleasantness of the characters isn’t downplayed either, with a whole production number dedicated to how superior Kendrick felt to all the people she grew up with. So yeah, there’s not exactly anyone to root for. In the end, if you’re a Broadway junkie, you may find something to appreciate here, but to the casual moviegoer such as myself, this came off as pretty noxious.

Source: JoBlo.com

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9:28AM on 03/03/2015
I strongly disagree with this review. The film has a few issues yet it still manages to be a rather strong, passionate cinematic updating of great material. The obvious anti-musical bias of the reviewer here is pretty egregious.
I strongly disagree with this review. The film has a few issues yet it still manages to be a rather strong, passionate cinematic updating of great material. The obvious anti-musical bias of the reviewer here is pretty egregious.
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10:31AM on 02/12/2015
I'd happily apply to be Joblo's resident musical critic. I love musicals, I perform in them professionally (anyone in Southern CA, come see Bonnie & Clyde at Costa Mesa Playhouse...another show Jeremy Jordan starred in) and I still objectively dislike most movie musical adaptations enough to write an honest review. Ironically, I think this WILL burn up the iTunes charts as the music for the show is very popular. However I don't enjoy watching this onstage and can't seem to think a movie would
I'd happily apply to be Joblo's resident musical critic. I love musicals, I perform in them professionally (anyone in Southern CA, come see Bonnie & Clyde at Costa Mesa Playhouse...another show Jeremy Jordan starred in) and I still objectively dislike most movie musical adaptations enough to write an honest review. Ironically, I think this WILL burn up the iTunes charts as the music for the show is very popular. However I don't enjoy watching this onstage and can't seem to think a movie would be much better. It's better to listen to in the car. It's just too stagnant of a show
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1:03AM on 02/10/2015
People always act so snobby about musicals, as if you don't like some of them, you're not being fair to all of them. Bumbray made good points, and these stories about spoiled stuck up characters who aren't very complex or even have particularly fascinating dilemmas may work on stage, but not always on screen. LaGravanese's "Beautiful Creatures" was a very worthy film that challenged the conventions of YA material unapologetically and sarcastically, though.
People always act so snobby about musicals, as if you don't like some of them, you're not being fair to all of them. Bumbray made good points, and these stories about spoiled stuck up characters who aren't very complex or even have particularly fascinating dilemmas may work on stage, but not always on screen. LaGravanese's "Beautiful Creatures" was a very worthy film that challenged the conventions of YA material unapologetically and sarcastically, though.
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1:55PM on 09/18/2014
The Last Five Years is one of the most brilliant musicals ever written. If the movie even kept a semblance of the original vision of the play, I'm sure the movie is going to go over well. JoBlo - don't assign a critic who dislikes musicals to review a a complicated, niche musical.
The Last Five Years is one of the most brilliant musicals ever written. If the movie even kept a semblance of the original vision of the play, I'm sure the movie is going to go over well. JoBlo - don't assign a critic who dislikes musicals to review a a complicated, niche musical.
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2:27PM on 09/18/2014
This^
while I actually have it on good authority, more or less, that this isn't a great adaptation, it's frustrating to see JoBlo continually assigning musicals to critics who don't like or understand the genre.
This^
while I actually have it on good authority, more or less, that this isn't a great adaptation, it's frustrating to see JoBlo continually assigning musicals to critics who don't like or understand the genre.
12:20PM on 09/18/2014

Last 5 Years TIFF

I myself traveled from New York to Toronto to see this. This review is kind of biased and is lacking some fine points. First is that you are not really suppose to want these characters to get back together. The first song of the movie is about how it is over. Second, that does not mean that you don't love the character's relationship together. In "The schmuel song" you are able to see the great parts of this relationship and tend to want to root for them even if you know it will fail. Anna
I myself traveled from New York to Toronto to see this. This review is kind of biased and is lacking some fine points. First is that you are not really suppose to want these characters to get back together. The first song of the movie is about how it is over. Second, that does not mean that you don't love the character's relationship together. In "The schmuel song" you are able to see the great parts of this relationship and tend to want to root for them even if you know it will fail. Anna Kendrick herself has added numerous improved lines that show her clear wit and spunk both as herself and the character. She also helped direct some of the scenes by adding her own input which they kept for the film. Jeremy Jordan was just spot on at everything this character is.
I will admit Anna seemed to struggle a little bit with the music and the musical director made a poor choice of trying to cover up little parts with some kind of auto tune. But this is in no way an EASY score to sing and both actors held their own. Anna herself admitted there is no way she could sing this 9 days a week and God bless the woman who can.
Overall I would give the movie an 8/10. On a whole they added so many great things but I also feel like the transition from stage to screen, as expected, was not entirely smooth.
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8:55AM on 09/18/2014
Absolutely one of my favorite musicals with a terrific score. I don't see the validity in a good number of Bumbray's 'problems' with the story and characters--they're both intended to be massively flawed and not always likable.
It's an extremely well-written show, and the songs are some of Brown's best.
Having said that, I'm not taking much issue with this review; frankly, even hardcore fans aren't enjoying this...the response has been overtly negative. While this saddens me as a fan, I'll
Absolutely one of my favorite musicals with a terrific score. I don't see the validity in a good number of Bumbray's 'problems' with the story and characters--they're both intended to be massively flawed and not always likable.
It's an extremely well-written show, and the songs are some of Brown's best.
Having said that, I'm not taking much issue with this review; frankly, even hardcore fans aren't enjoying this...the response has been overtly negative. While this saddens me as a fan, I'll still check it out.
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10:34AM on 02/12/2015
Seriously, JRB's Parade is what should be a movie. Last 5 Years is just too basic and easy to produce at any local theatre to be worthwhile as a movie adaptation.
Seriously, JRB's Parade is what should be a movie. Last 5 Years is just too basic and easy to produce at any local theatre to be worthwhile as a movie adaptation.
9:02PM on 09/17/2014
If this is as bad as you say this is, I'm disappointed, because I was really looking forward to a Jason Robert Brown adaptation. Most film musicals are grand affairs, even Rent was relatively bombastic. The Last Five Years is a small, intimate story with pretty realistic characters and that's not what most audiences are used to seeing in musicals, perhaps that played a part in Bumbray's dislike of the film.
If this is as bad as you say this is, I'm disappointed, because I was really looking forward to a Jason Robert Brown adaptation. Most film musicals are grand affairs, even Rent was relatively bombastic. The Last Five Years is a small, intimate story with pretty realistic characters and that's not what most audiences are used to seeing in musicals, perhaps that played a part in Bumbray's dislike of the film.
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1:38AM on 09/18/2014
They need to do Parade.
They need to do Parade.
8:09PM on 09/17/2014

?

Anna Kendrick's voice isn't broadway ready? Isn't she a Tony nominated actress for a Broadway musical?
Anna Kendrick's voice isn't broadway ready? Isn't she a Tony nominated actress for a Broadway musical?
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8:46PM on 09/17/2014
Yes, but she was also a child... Original Annie got a Tony nom too :-P
Yes, but she was also a child... Original Annie got a Tony nom too :-P
8:52AM on 09/18/2014
Andrea McArdle ("Original Annie") is still a fantastic singer and often performs.
Andrea McArdle ("Original Annie") is still a fantastic singer and often performs.
+0
5:15PM on 09/17/2014
That's too bad. I am a fan of Anna and really hate to see her star in something as bad as this.
That's too bad. I am a fan of Anna and really hate to see her star in something as bad as this.
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5:01PM on 09/17/2014
I'm a musical theater performer by trade and though my friends obsess over this one, I never got it. The concept of him moving forward in the timeline in her moving back is gimmicky... It's based on the composers failed marriage and he did become pretty unlikeable and narcissistic after winning a Tony for his best musical Parade which SHOULD be a movie. But yeah... Nothing to root for in this story... Just something heart breaking to mess with everyone's head on Valentine's Day.
I'm a musical theater performer by trade and though my friends obsess over this one, I never got it. The concept of him moving forward in the timeline in her moving back is gimmicky... It's based on the composers failed marriage and he did become pretty unlikeable and narcissistic after winning a Tony for his best musical Parade which SHOULD be a movie. But yeah... Nothing to root for in this story... Just something heart breaking to mess with everyone's head on Valentine's Day.
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4:51PM on 09/17/2014

Woah!

Sad to see this. I was really excited for this film and I've been hearing good stuff too...but I can never get into a film where the leads are unlikable.
Sad to see this. I was really excited for this film and I've been hearing good stuff too...but I can never get into a film where the leads are unlikable.
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