The Last Five Years (3 stars)

The Last Five Years

Anna Kendrick is wonderful in this mostly successful and moving musical

Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan star in a musical adapted for the screen by writer-director Richard LaGravenese (the original 2001 off-Broadway show was written by Jason Robert Brown) that explores the difficult balancing act between reaching for your dreams and maintaining a healthy relationship. Careers and love collide in this cathartic New York-set sing-a-long session that relishes both life's highs and lows, only occasionally hitting bum notes.

The opening number, 'Still Hurting', which sees struggling actress Cathy (Kendrick) lamenting the end of her five-year relationship with novelist Jamie (Jordan) is fantastic and immediately puts you in her heartbreaking position. The narrative flicks between the good and bad times, with the audience soon introduced to a couple who are deeply in love. Another highlight is a musical homage that sees Kendrick donning a nun’s habit and spinning round in a lush green field. She really is in her element here.

'I could never rescue you,' warbles Jamie at one of his lowest ebbs, which points to why this relationship was doomed from the start. His fairytale-like romantic aspirations are dashed because they simply aren’t realistic. Jamie’s contemptible attitude towards women delivers one of the most skin-crawling numbers of the film, an effect which seems intentional. However, at points it does become questionable whether, in showing us him wallowing in self-pity, the film is trying to provoke a sympathetic response.

Though Jordan is a talented showman his performance doesn’t really engage on an emotional level. His denial, rage or happiness never quite convinces because his theatrical tendencies don’t transfer all that well to the big screen. Performing alongside a formidable cinematic actress with raw delivery also doesn’t do him any favours. But with Kendrick at the centre and a certain amount of charming swagger, The Last Five Years is a mostly moving and enjoyable experience.

Selected release from Fri 17 Apr.

The Last Five Years

  • 3 stars
  • 2014
  • US
  • 1h 32min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Richard LaGravenese
  • Cast: Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan, Meg Hudson
  • UK release: 17 April 2015

New York-set musical about struggling actress Cathy (Kendrick) and her five-year relationship with novelist Jamie (Jordan). A mostly moving and enjoyable sing-along session, with Kendrick especially good, although Jordan's theatrical tendencies don't transfer too well to the big screen.