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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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