The Last 5 Years charts the relationship of young lovers Cathy and Jamie. It’s based on a two-person play I saw in 2015 at the intimate 300 seat Front Porch Theater on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.
As in the play, the film opens on Cathy (Anna Kendrick) alone in their apartment, lamenting in song that Jamie (Jeremey Jordan) has left her. The next scene jumps without warning to Jamie’s point of view, where he and Cathy are laughing and about to sleep with one another for the first time.
This clever musical switches back and forth from Cathy to Jamie…she starts their story at the end and works her way backward, while Jamie starts at the beginning and progresses forward.
They begin with a whirlwind courtship in New York City. She’s an aspiring theater actress pounding the pavement and doing summer stock theater, while he’s trying to write the Great American Novel. But they grow apart as Jamie’s career soars and Cathy’s never gets off the ground.
Is it Jamie’s growing ego or Cathy’s jealousy that tears them apart?
Is Cathy grieving Jamie or the loss of her dreams?
It depends on who’s telling the story.
Their heady early days are tinged with melancholy because we’ve already seen how it will end with bitterness on both sides.
In the play, the two lead characters only interact with one another once, when their stories meet in the middle on their wedding day. The film has them together throughout but still manages to convey the idea that these two were never truly on the same page.
The acting is top notch, and you may find yourself (as I did) downloading the soundtrack onto your phone.
Anyone who loved Anna Kendrick in Pitch Perfect (ie; everyone) should give this overlooked little gem a shot.
This is part of my Movies I’m Grateful For series, running daily through the month of November.
Other films include: Splash | New Moon | The Lucky One | Thelma and Louise | Katy Perry: Part of Me | Crazy Rich Asians | Under the Tuscan Sun | Terminator 2 | Moulin Rouge! | How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days | Practical Magic | Schindler’s List | Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol | Stardust | The Man in the Moon | The Others | Little Women | Cruella | Sliding Doors | Far and Away | The Magdalene Sisters | The Heat |