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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Last Five Years Review

You might have noticed that I love musicals. Honestly, if you haven't, then you've clearly not been on my blog long enough. I have a bit of an annoying habit of not being able to avoid talking about them.

Musical movies on the other hand....I'm skeptical of. There are some I won't even watch (Phantom of the Opera), some I adore regardless of their many flaws (Les Miserables), and now finally one that I love whole-heartedly: The Last Five Years.


Before buying the film on iTunes (the best $15 I ever spent; I actually have it playing right now in the background...for research purposes, of course), I had never seen or even listened to the musical. I vaguely knew that it charted the course of a couple's relationship in a non-chronological way. I knew that the existing cast recording had Norbert Leo Butz (of Wicked and Catch Me If You Can fame) and Sherie Renie Scott (who actually has a cameo in the movie!). I also knew that it starred Jeremy Jordan, which was more than enough for me.

Many fans of the show expressed doubts that the storyline would be understood in movie format as it jumps around without warning or explanation. However, I found it easy to follow once I knew the premise and enjoyed trying to guess what point of their relationship it was showing.

Jeremy Jordan was honestly better than even I expected (a huge compliment, believe me). Jordan's Jamie is charming, boyishly goofy, and sexy at the same time. He's an idealistic dreamer who breaks your heart as he breaks Cathy's. And yet...you still love him. His vocals are astounding and beautiful, pleasing to both a musical theatre fan and a casual viewer. His acting blew me away, as not all actors can make the transition from stage to screen so flawlessly.

The bigger surprise for me was Anna Kendrick's Cathy. Before this, I neither liked nor disliked Kendrick, but this film definitely changed my mind. She portrays a Cathy who is simultaneously vulnerable, determined, and frustrated. Her vocals fit the songs perfectly. I personally dislike the character of Cathy, but only because she reminds me too much of the person I'm afraid I might be; however, Kendrick made her sympathetic. She's also adorable in all of Cathy's cute outfits.

This movie also succeeded in making the singing seem realistic, which is always a struggle for a sung-through musical. Maybe it's because the film had composer Jason Robert Brown's help (and a cameo!) or maybe it's simply because it's a compelling tale. Either way, this film is the perfect movie musical in my mind.

I'm going to renew Tyler Oakley's request: please choose to see this movie instead of Fifty Shades of Grey. If you're not one of those blessed people who live in a city that is showing the movie, you can buy or rent it on iTunes. Don't deprive yourself of Jordan and Kendrick's performances or a realistic portrayal of how two people who are completely wrong for each other can still fall in love...and break each other's hearts.

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