The Last Five Years Blu-ray Review
After I saw UP IN THE AIR I hoped I would get to see newcomer Anna Kendrick in another larger role. After a string of small roles (including my personal favorite TINY role as Scott Pilgrim’s sister), Kendrick’s star exploded when PITCH PERFECT became a cult sensation. Now it seems like we can’t get enough of the petite actor/singer phenom, though at this point it is starting to feel like she’s the only person Hollywood trusts to play a pretty girl with a beautiful voice. That type of type-casting can be a little bit boring – and I was starting to worry about this with Ms. Kendrick – but her new movie THE LAST FIVE YEARS is anything but boring.
THE LAST FIVE YEARS is a classical tragic love story in musical form, but what makes it absolutely unique is the semi-Tarantino-esque way in which the story is told. Like the off-Broadway musical before it, THE LAST FIVE YEARS tells the story of young love from both sides, intersecting in the most intriguing way at the pinnacle of their relationship (or the beginning of the fall depending on your perspective). What’s more, the two characters are played beautifully by Kendrick and newcomer Jeremy Jordan, who carry THE LAST FIVE YEARS and make you really care about this love story.
We begin at the end, with Kendrick’s Cathy Hiatt finding a dear john letter in her apartment. She sings a heart-wrenching number (one of my favorites from the entire film) while setting up the characters and establishing just how horrifically everything can end up. Cathy’s side of the story, from end to beginning, is juxtaposed with Jordan’s Jamie Wellerstein, who tells the story from beginning to end. While his story leads to ruin and is filled with pain in the latter half, Cathy reminds us finally what it means to fall in love even though we know where things are headed.
This is where the story is quite interesting, in a way I didn’t really expect. Not only do you care for both Jamie and Cathy, but I found myself switching between the two as the story unfolded in front of me. The two characters could easily have become one dimensional in a story like this, and given their backgrounds (a struggling actor and a young author) there was a lot of concern for this at the start. But all of that worry was for naught as they both command the screen in their own very distinctive way.
A movie like THE LAST FIVE YEARS could easily become a gimmick. Casting Kendrick in another singing role, the way the movie plays with time, the characters and their backgrounds, it all could have easily led to something much less than the sum of the parts and yet, when the movie was over, I wanted to watch it again, and again. Now I’ve seen it several times and while I don’t love all of the music I’m just really a fan of the way THE LAST FIVE YEARS is put together from beginning to end. I highly recommend it.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.39:1) The video presentation of THE LAST FIVE YEARS is just barely passable with today’s standards but the audio… well, it steals the show.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio presentation is phenomenal, focusing on the strong vocals of THE LAST FIVE YEARS’ cast without taking away from the music. It just works.
Sing-Along Subtitles (01:34:25) You can watch the entirety of THE LAST FIVE YEARS with subtitles, a la sing-along/karaoke style.
A Conversation with Composer/Lyricist Jason Robert Brown (03:57) The composer/lyricist for THE LAST FIVE YEARS talks about his musical and its translation to the big screen. It was the first time I really realized there are only two people in the film… a few extras, yes, but very little. It’s a testament to how well the movie gels that you don’t realize this is the case.