Considering that movie musicals have had zero audience since the 1960s, it's always incredible that the film industry remains so whole-heartedly committed to honoring this genre. While it is one thing to bring a movie to the Broadway stage, it is quite another to bring a Broadway musical to the screen. And yet, this is exactly what Richard LaGravenese (best known for writing such films as A Little Princess, The Mirror Has Two Faces and Living Out Loud) decided to do with beloved playwright Jason Robert Brown's 2001 musical, The Last Five Years.
In the role of Cathy Hiatt, Anna Kendrick, no stranger to the Broadway musical scene, is even more annoying than she was in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2. Her voice, while technically "good," is like, yes, nails on a chalkboard after having to listen to it endlessly. And she is, of course, the one doing most of the so-called talking.
Her appeal to Jamie Wellerstein (Jeremy Jordan), an author who is about to sell his first manuscript, is her shiksa goddess status to him. Unlike anyone else Jamie has ever dated, Cathy is plucky, energetic and determined. Her ambition to become a theater actress, however, is ultimately part of what "rents" their relationship (get it, Rent?).
With Jamie's meteoric success as a bestselling writer, Cathy suddenly finds herself on the outer corners of the spotlight, "the little wife" who, at best, is given some credit for being Jamie's muse. In spite of this intense source of contention, Cathy still wants to make her marriage work. Alas, the attempt at trying is, inevitably, one-sided. In this regard, The Last Five Years redeems itself for being a musical because of the powerfully emotional way in which it addresses the complications of modern monogamy.