Review: The Last Five Years


If you hated Tom Hooper's epic screen production of Les Misérables and were ready to walk out of Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd, I'm guessing that movies which rely on songs to tell a story aren't your thing. And that is exactly the format for The Last Five Years, which is Richard LaGravensese's film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway stage show by Jason Robert Brown. But I would urge readers of this paper who dislike the format to review their stance as this is the one and only time you will hear the lyrics: "Hey! Hey! Shiksa goddess! I've been waiting for someone like you."

And it doesn't end there as this is a musical about a nice Jewish boy called Jamie Wallerstein (Jeremy Jordan from TV's Smash) who, having failed to find the sort of girl his parents would approve of, falls in love with Cathy (spectacular Anna Kendrick from Pitch Perfect and Into The Woods) who is not of the faith. Hence the Shiksa tribute which amuses no end as Jamie goes on to sing about "Shabbas dinners on Friday nights with every Shapiro in Washington Heights". Funny, eh? Many of the songs owe a debt to Stephen Sondheim and are just as challenging to perform, but Jordan and Kendrick nail them all, which they need to as the film belongs to them.

The five years of the title refers to the length of their relationship as this is about the breakdown of their marriage, though there is no chronology to the tale which is told from two different perspectives. We have a mortified Cathy beginning her story at the end of the marriage, while the euphoric Jamie, who is a novelist, commences at the start with hopes of becoming her "Hebrew slave". It's very poignant and while some have declared Brown's score unmemorable, I've had no problem humming the songs. Hopefully I've been complimentary enough about this charming film to encourage those who aren't musically observant to give it a go as it's the first film to feature a singing Jewish protagonist since Yentl.

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