I have been a fan of The Last Five Years for it seems ages, I own the Off-Broadway Cast Recording with Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott and it was my first introduction to Jason Robert Brown. So when I heard they were making a film version I was excited. The Last Five Years tells the story of a relationship forwards (Jamie, the male) and backwards (Cathy, the female) at the same time, some people have said this is confusing but I don’t understand this argument. The show was inspired by Jason Robert Brown’s own failed marriage. Over on Unequally Yoked there is a nice post and there is also one at Monique Ocampo Writes. Spoiler to follow so please be careful if you read anymore.
In the film we have Anna Kendrick as Cathy and Jeremy Jordan as Jamie and we get to see a bunch of other characters, on stage it is just the two of them singing songs. The film begins with Cathy at the end of the relationship belting about how she is hurting from everything Jamie has done to her and their divorce. Then the mood changes and we are five year in the past and watching Jamie laments that he is disappointing his mother for finding a shiksa and he claims that Cathy is someone that he thinks he can be in love with. The story then moves back to Cathy we are in Ohio at Summer Stock and she and Jamie are having a fight since he has can only spend one day with Cathy. Jamie is an author on the rise he gets a call and people like his book and want to publish it and he decides to get a place with Cathy. Back with Cathy we hear about Jamie is basically gone writing his book and attending functions but she still loves his smile and believes that she’s a part of his success. Cathy and Jamie celebrate their first Christmas together and Jamie tells Cathy a story basically saying that he will support her acting career as long as she want to be an actress. Cathy is in Ohio and she is telling Jamie about how disappointing her summer has been without him. This is followed by the one time in the show when the timelines intersect Jamie and Cathy’s wedding. After the wedding Jamie isn’t excited since there seems to be a never ending stream of women who now find him interesting since he is unavailable. Cathy goes to an audition and tries to land an acting job, she comes home disappointed and she realizes that she doesn’t want Jamie to be the only one to find success. Jamie accuses Cathy of not supporting him because acting hasn’t panned out well for her, but adds that he is still supportive of her choice. Cathy tells Jamie about a friend from high school and says that she can do better than them and they move in together. Jamie is in and out of bed with other women and blames this on Cathy somehow and tells the other women that he could be in love with someone like them. We reach the end of the loop Cathy sings a farewell after their first date “Goodbye until tomorrow” and Jamie leaves he’s packed his bags and closes the bank account their five year relationship is over. That’s about as simple of a plot outline you can get with this show.
The relationship in this musical is a very modern relationship there is a spark at the beginning and over the years it starts to fade. One of the thing about the musical is that it is hard to pick a winner between the two who has the upper hand at the beginning you really feel sorry for Cathy with Jamie cheating on her but then towards the middle you begin to fall for Jamie and see that he does love Cathy, only to be disappointed when we reach the end. Cathy on the other hand goes from devastated from the divorce to sort of disappearing in the middle bits to complete joy at meeting Jamie. One of the big questions that I leave with is do Cathy and Jamie even love each other before they get married Cathy says that she doesn’t need any lifetime commitment and Jamie says “I think I could be in love with someone like you” both of these are early on in the relationship as well. Is this a one sided relationship, purely based on looks or is there more to their relationship? This is one of the biggest questions that we all face today what makes a relationship and hopefully it is more than a swipe on Tinder or a brief hook up. This seems to be the extent of Cathy and Jamie’s love it is shallow and it doesn’t go anywhere, like many modern relationships.
Now we’ve come to the should I go see it section, if you haven’t noticed I basically say you should go see all the movies that I talk about. I liked the movie and this makes it two good movie musical since December, although I doubt that this will make Hollywood jump on the musical bandwagon again. The Last Five Years is available on iTunes, streaming and in a small number of theaters, if it is not showing near you rent it or buy it from iTunes or streaming. If you are a fan of the musical, go it is a faithful adaptation and sort of expands the universe. If you like musicals you are bound to have a fun time watching it since it is a good movie musical and fans of romances should enjoy it as well.