Posted on September 12, 2014 at 3:20 am

The Last Five Years
review by Richard Lawson

Jeremy and Anna

There’s something about director Richard LaGravenese’s style that warms the heart. Here, adapting Jason Robert Brown’s two-hander musical into a nice, efficient little film, LaGravenese tells a simple story quite well. Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) and Cathy (Anna Kendrick) are a young couple who, through a dozen or so songs, sing us the story of their relationship’s glorious rise and bittersweet fall. They do so in opposite chronologies, Cathy starting at the end of the marriage and working her way back, Jamie starting at the beginning and going forward. She’s a struggling actress, he a wunderkind writer, and his success measured against her professional failings put a strain on their innocent, enthusiastic love for each other. LaGravenese stages each number with the care of a true fan, Brown’s witty, articulate lyrics on loving display. Kendrick is not a belter, and gets a bit reedy at times, but she has a real ear for Brown’s idiosyncratic phrasing. Jordan doesn’t bring quite the same nuance to his role, but his glossy, pop-star vocals and churlish grin prove plenty effective anyway. Corny but never cloying, The Last Five Years is the perfect vehicle for LaGravenese’s particular brand of stylish sentiment.