The Last 5 Years by Tony award winning composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown is a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage taking place over a five year period. Jamie Wellerstein is a young, talented up and coming Jewish novelist who falls in love with Cathy Hiatt, a Shiksa Goddess struggling actress. Their story is told almost entirely through songs using an intercutting time line device; all of Cathy's songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair while Jamie's songs start at the beginning of their affair and move forward to the end of their marriage. They meet in the center when Jamie proposes.Written by
I became a fan of L5Y when I saw a regional production in the Berkshires. I instantly fell in love with the songs and the concept. Since then, I have also seen the recent off-Broadway production directed by Jason Robert Brown himself and have listened to the original cast album non-stop. When I heard they were making a movie of this, I was skeptical, because in the show, neither Jaimie nor Cathy ever share scenes together save for one wedding scene in the middle. I was further skeptical when I heard that they were going to have them in every scene together.
Well, I saw the film on demand last night and I have to say, first let's speak about the music. The reason I loved the music so much was because it had such small orchestrations and no drums. I was afraid that adding drums, more strings, and more electric guitar would take away the chamber feel of the sound, but on the contrary, it actually enhanced it. Second of all, they chose two great singers who were able to sing most of the score live, and I have to give props to Anna Kendrick, who is probably the best Cathy I have seen and heard. Also, props for not cutting a single musical number, and they didn't have to because the show was an hour and a half to begin with.
Now for everything else. The new dialog between the songs hardly added anything to the film. I'm mainly concerned with Cathy's dialog during the Shmuel Song. Also, in the play, every song Cathy sang took place when she was going backwards, but a few parts of her songs, mainly "When You Come Home..." and the final part of "Climbing Uphill", seemed to take place in chronological order. Also, that whole fantasy sequence in Shiksa Goddess with all of Jaimie's Jewish girlfriends was way too unnecessary, as was that brief dance scene during "Moving Too Fast".
Other than those things, I thought it was very well done.
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