The Last Five Years (film)
The Last Five Years is a 2014 American musical romantic comedy-drama film starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. Based on Jason Robert Brown's musical of the same name, the film is written and directed by Richard Lagravenese.
|The Last Five Years|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Richard LaGravenese|
|Screenplay by||Richard LaGravenese|
|Based on||The Last Five Years|
by Jason Robert Brown
|Music by||Jason Robert Brown|
|Edited by||Sabine Hoffman|
The film premiered on September 7, 2014, in the Special Presentations section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was released in select theaters and on video on demand on February 13, 2015.
The musical chronicles the romance between Jamie Wellerstein (Jordan) and Cathy Hiatt (Kendrick). It presents their relationship out of chronological order, in a non-linear narrative: Cathy's songs begin after they have separated and move backwards in time to the beginning of their courtship, while Jamie's songs start when they have first met and proceeds through their crumbling marriage.
The musical, as presented on stage, is a two-person show, with no other actors besides the ones playing Jamie and Cathy. Additionally, it consists almost exclusively of solo numbers; Jamie and Cathy alternate songs, do not share the other's time frame, almost never sing together and frequently are not even present while the other character unburdens themselves. This gives each character space to present their side of the story, biases and all. In adapting for film, LaGravanese made the decision to have the other character present for each monologue, but no music was altered. Additionally, a number of other actors appear in other parts, though Jordan and Kendrick still provide the bulk of the dialogue and all singing.
In 2014, Cathy returns home to find a letter from her husband Jamie declaring their marriage over ("Still Hurting"). She removes her wedding rings, as well as her wristwatch and bracelet.
Five years earlier, Jamie is an up-and-coming writer who has just met Cathy. He is overjoyed to be dating outside his Jewish heritage ("Shiksa Goddess"), and declares, "I could be in love with someone like you."
During the summer of 2013, Jamie visits Cathy in Ohio, where she is working in summer stock. It is her birthday, and he has come to visit her. She is anxious to fix any problems in their marriage but she becomes angry when Jamie tells her he has to return early to New York in order to attend a Random House party. She accuses him of egotism, claiming he values his career more than his relationship with her ("See I'm Smiling").
In 2010, Jamie receives a phone call from a Random House agent, who wants to make a deal for his manuscript. Overjoyed, he calls Cathy and agrees to move in with her. He comments on how lucky he feels to be so successful at only 23 ("Moving Too Fast"). Elsewhere at an audition, Cathy makes a call to her disinterested agent: it seems her career isn't going the way she planned, as she does not move on to the dance audition.
In late 2009 and early 2010, Cathy attends multiple social functions for the promotion of Jamie's novel and for celebrating its success (63 weeks as a bestseller). She sings about how his newfound fame and success in writing have changed their lives and jokes about how focused or "catatonic" he becomes in his writing process. She expresses that she feels the best way to love Jamie is to focus on him and his growing career. She chooses to "follow in his stride" and put herself and her dreams second to his new success ("A Part of That").
After a horrible day working as a bartender during the holiday season, Cathy comes home to an excited Jamie. He tells her a Christmas story he has written about an old tailor named Schmuel, who had given up on his dreams but is able to turn back time and undo his past regrets ("The Schmuel Song"). After the story, Jamie encourages Cathy to take more risks and continue to pursue her own dreams. For her Christmas present, Jamie gives her an appointment for new headshots, a Backstage magazine, and a wristwatch, as well as the promise to support her as she pursues acting.
In the summer of 2010, Cathy is in Ohio doing summer stock and videochatting with Jamie. She describes to Jamie her disappointing life in Ohio, her dysfunctional and eccentric colleagues, and her desire to achieve success as an actress in New York, never to return to Ohio ("A Summer in Ohio").
Jamie and Cathy's timelines converge as they walk to a gazebo in Central Park, where Jamie proposes ("The Next Ten Minutes"). Some time later, they marry in the same spot.
Jamie, now a bestselling author, struggles to resist an increasing number of advances from other women, though he expresses his desire to remain faithful to Cathy ("A Miracle Would Happen"). Cathy, meanwhile, has a seemingly successful audition for an off-Broadway show ("When You Come Home to Me"). She calls Jamie to tell him the good news, while he struggles to get a moment away from work to speak with her.
Some time earlier, Cathy is struggling with poor auditions and repeated rejection. She attends a book reading for Jamie's novel "Light out of Darkness", where she realizes she is no longer content to put Jamie's career before her own ("Climbing Uphill").
Jamie wants Cathy to attend a party to celebrate the publishing of his book, but she refuses, stating she has been to so many of them only to be ignored by her husband. He decides he'll go alone, but questions Cathy about why she really refuses to go with him, suggesting she is jealous of his career success. Jamie promises her that he still believes in her and their relationship ("If I Didn't Believe in You"), but she walks away.
Cathy and Jamie are traveling to New Jersey, where he be will meeting her parents for the first time. She expresses her dissatisfaction with suburban life, as well as with her past failed relationships ("I Can Do Better Than That"). Upon arriving at her parents' house, she asks Jamie to move in with her.
Jamie wakes up in his apartment beside multiple women, including his editor, Alise, and the receptionist at Random House ("Nobody Needs to Know"). About to leave for Ohio to visit Cathy, he tries to defend his actions and blames Cathy for destroying his privacy and their relationship. Jamie promises not to lie to Alise and tells her, "I could be in love with someone like you," just as he did to Cathy.
In 2009, Cathy is ecstatic after her first date with Jamie ("Goodbye Until Tomorrow"). She proclaims that she has been waiting for Jamie her whole life. Back in 2014, Jamie writes a farewell letter to Cathy, claiming he tried all he could to save their marriage ("I Could Never Rescue You").
As a hopeful Cathy waits for a tomorrow with Jamie, a discouraged Jamie tells Cathy "goodbye". He leaves behind his keys and wedding ring, then exits their apartment. Later that evening, we see Cathy return to the apartment and open the front door to find Jamie's letter waiting for her.
- Anna Kendrick as Cathy Hiatt
- Jeremy Jordan as Jamie Wellerstein
- Natalie Knepp as Alise Michaels
- Marceline Hugot as Mrs. Linda Whitfield
- Rafael Sardina as Richard
- Allison Macri as Carole Ann
- Alan Simpson as Ryan James
- Nic Novicki as Karl
- Betsy Wolfe (uncredited) as Cathy's former stripper roommate
- Sherie Rene Scott (uncredited) as a woman in one of Cathy's auditions
- Kurt Deutsch (uncredited)
- Jason Robert Brown (uncredited) as a pianist in one of Cathy's auditions
- Georgia Stitt (uncredited) as a pianist in one of Cathy's auditions
- Ashley Spencer as Receptionist
The film's song numbers follows the musical's, alternating between Cathy and Jamie with a song or two sung by both.
- "Still Hurting" - Cathy
- "Shiksa Goddess" - Jamie
- "See I'm Smiling" - Cathy
- "Moving Too Fast" - Jamie
- "A Part of That" - Cathy
- "The Schmuel Song" - Jamie
- "A Summer in Ohio" - Cathy
- "The Next Ten Minutes" - Jamie and Cathy
- "A Miracle Would Happen/When You Come Home to Me" - Jamie and Cathy
- "Climbing Uphill" - Cathy
- "If I Didn't Believe in You" - Jamie
- "I Can Do Better Than That" - Cathy
- "Nobody Needs to Know" - Jamie
- "Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You" - Cathy and Jamie
Principal photography began on June 17, 2013 in New York City. The film wrapped on July 16, 2013 in Harlem. It inked foreign distribution deals with countries in Eastern Europe and Asia in August 2014.
Betsy Wolfe, who played Cathy in the 2013 Off-Broadway revival, plays the former stripper that Cathy rooms with in Ohio. Composer Brown plays one of the accompanists during Cathy's auditions in "Climbing Uphill". Sherie Rene Scott, who originated the role of Cathy in the Off-Broadway production, also appears in one of the audition scenes with her husband Kurt Deutsch. Additionally, Jordan's wife Ashley Spencer portrays one of Jamie's affairs in "Nobody Needs to Know".
Radius-TWC announced a release date in the United States of February 13, 2015, simultaneously releasing it in select theatres and on VOD. It was previously set for release in the United Kingdom on December 12, 2014, but was later pushed back to February 6, in line with its US release. Icon Film Distribution then pushed the release date back indefinitely, and they have not yet announced a new date.
In its opening weekend in North America, the film grossed $42,042, opening in limited release in three theaters. By the end of its run, the film had grossed $145,427 in the domestic box office.
The Last Five Years received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Anna Kendrick's performance was met with widespread critical acclaim, with many citing it as the best performance of her career. Jeremy Jordan's performance was met with positive reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 60% approval rating, based on 97 reviews, with an average rating of 6.09/10. The site's critical consensus states, "The Last Five Years hits a few awkward notes in its transition from stage to screen, but its freshness and sincere charm – and well-matched stars – offer their own rewards." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score, calculated an average score of 60 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
In The Observer, Jonathan Romney found the film to be "an enjoyable anomaly. The Last Five Years is not just a romcom for people who hate romcoms, it’s also a musical – although people who devoutly hate those may not click with its literate wit and knowing, more-bitter-than-sweet poignancy". Less positively, he wrote: "It’s not as cinematically confident as it might be: director Richard LaGravenese isn't always the most imaginative at providing visual settings", before adding, "this does feel like an organic film rather than a show forced into movie glad rags". Romney found the songs to be "unfailingly sharp, though one or two take on clunky rock colourings; even then, they’re only as bad as, say, Billy Joel on one of his better days". He concluded, "It’s a film to bring tears to the eyes of a cynic – in fact, a cynic might relish it more than anyone, since it’s the counterpointing of exuberance with unashamed bleakness that makes The Last Five Years so rich. You may even, just possibly, come out humming the tunes."
|2014||Chicago International Film Festival||Audience Choice Award||Richard LaGravenese||Nominated|
|2015||Traverse City Film Festival||Founders Prize Special Awards||Richard LaGravenese||Won|
|2015||Indiana Film Journalists Association Awards||Best Actress||Anna Kendrick||Nominated|
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- TIFF.net | The Last Five Years
- Director Richard LaGravenese on His Upcoming Last Five Years Movie: 'It's a Great Little Piece'
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- Romney, Jonathan (April 19, 2015). "And the rest…: The Last Five Years". The Observer (The New Review section). London. p. 29. Retrieved April 24, 2015.