Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review of THE LAST FIVE YEARS: Play vs. Film

February 25, 2015



"The Last 5 Years" is about a couple whose 5-year relationship had gone awry. However, the story was not told nor staged in a linear fashion. We first see a distraught young lady named Cathy still hurting about her lost love.  We then see an excited young man Jamie who just met the ideal goddess for his life. They would alternately sing one "stream of consciousness" song after the other to tell their story. Cathy's was going backwards, as Jamie's was going forwards. At almost exactly the halfway point of the show, they finally sing together what would be their wedding song.  

In the play I saw, even if I already knew what was going on, it was still difficult to understand every little story they were telling.  The songs sung to tell the story were not exactly easy on the uninitiated ear because of their unusual melodies, discordant notes, and repetitive loops. I watched this film after I have seen the play, so I already knew the flow of the story. But more than that, being more visual with the setting and background characters, the movie made the story clearer than the play. In the play, the actors were pantomiming a lot so it was harder to understand what was happening.

This is not an easy musical for everyone to digest or like.  I may be in the minority here, but I cannot say I enjoyed watching this play. The running time was only one and a half hours (without intermission), but it seemed to just be going on and on without making much sense, even if I already knew what was going on. The time-bending storytelling gimmick by writer Joseph Robert Brown was innovative, but for me, it did not really work on the stage. It did not give me a chance to get to know these two characters enough to commiserate with their predicament. The singing talents of the stars who played Cathy and Jamie (Nikki Gil and Joaquin Valdez) were the saving graces of the theater production I saw.

In this movie version, Jamie was played by Broadway actor Jeremy Jordan, while Cathy was played by Academy Award nominee Anna Kendrick. How they attack their roles determine who the audience will be sympathizing with between these two flawed characters. Was Director Richard de Gravenese biased? I thought while Jordan played Jamie as chipper and likable, Kendrick was playing Cathy as such an annoying nag. Is is Kendrick's sharp facial features or her shrill voice (be it in speaking or singing)? The Cathy in the play I watched did not come across as irritating as she was played here by Kendrick.

I still do not like this negative love story too much. I thought the film would add further dimensions, but it did not do so significantly as it followed the musical play to the letter. The limitations of the play became the same limitations of the film.  5/10.


22 comments:

  1. oh nice movie..i had a five yr relationship before but ended!

    ReplyDelete
  2. It's great to have watched both film and play version so you can write about varying interpretations of the story. Sad to hear you weren't impressed.

    ReplyDelete
  3. i never heard about this movie, maybe it's not too famous. since you only rate 5 out of 10, i'm not gonna watch that. hhe

    ReplyDelete
  4. I normally like Anna Kendrick - not sure it's the kind of film I would like though. Can imagine the play would be slightly confusing if you hadn't seen the film. Fab review as always! Sim x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hopefully, they can remake or do some sort of continuation of this. Would love to see a happy ending!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I don't like mimes in a play. I was expecting that the play would be much better than its film version.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow, I got a little confused with your film versus play review. It's something new for me though... I guess I usually accompany my review with images to aid understanding, instead of allowing the readers to interpret from my words.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is not an easy movie to digest, I don't really like it as it too tiring trying to catch the story instead of enjoying it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. The title looks confusing film vs play review. But the post has explained it all.

    ReplyDelete
  10. With your review, I don't think I'd watch this any longer. Might not be worth my penny, since as you've said I might have a hard time digesting or understanding it. This is a good heads up!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hmmm...I dig Miss Kendricks but I doubt I'll spare some cash to catch this

    ReplyDelete
  12. Looks like both film and movie has flows. The story line and the presentation made it difficult too.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think you have grounds to rate the musical that low because it seems a little difficult to comprehend, I think the whole story seems somehow messed up.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Seriously have to watch this movie! Thanks for reminding me! Haha! :D

    ReplyDelete
  15. you just spoil the party bro. The play is not that good with those 'no so good songs renditions' and the film seems offer the same thing. It is good to say that this is a boring one to see on theaters as well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I gas a good laugh reading your review. I can only imagine the dissonance and confusion of the play. I'm a fan of plays but musicals are not at the top of my list.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I like musicals, but I don't think this is something for me. Great review though! I really adore your play vs film comparison.

    ReplyDelete
  18. the main reason why i still watch movies in cinema theaters it is because of love stories like this. is this showing in manila ?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I loved Anna in the Pitch perfect and her performance in the Oscars was just amazing. Can't wait to watch this movie!

    ReplyDelete
  20. i like anna kendrick. ill need to watch this when its out

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have never heard of this movie before. I'll have to check it out!

    ReplyDelete