Welcome back to The Watchlist. Where I finally watch the messy sock drawer that is my Netflix Watchlist, because if I don’t watch it then Who Watches The Netflix Watchlist?
Based on the stage musical, The Last Five Years is the story of Cathy and Jamie ‘s relationship as told in chronological and reverse chronological order. It was well received off-Broadway, enough to get it turned into a movie twelve years later. It’s a beautiful concept, and Anna Kendrick fuckin’ kills every scene. It’s worth it just for that alone. She has to open what is essentially a romcom with the break-up song.
And it’s beautiful. I have no idea what Jamie did, or who this character is, but I’m in near tears, and after finishing the movie, I’m still listening to the song. The music here is pretty decent. It sounds like a modern musical score, with hints of rock but none have the ability to be listened to without the visuals. It’s no Hamilton. It’s best when seen as a romcom. In that context it’s up there with the lesser Nora Ephron movies. At it’s sweetest, it’s not saccharine.
The Christmas scene is the best at this tone. Jamie cheers Cathy up with a story he’s made up about a man who makes a dress that makes him fly. Cathy, who is struggling to become an actor, is only won over after he gets stuck on a lyric. It’s sweet and real. Real. A word I’m not sure I’ve used for a musical before, but this one feels so small.
The original musical was only the two actors playing Cathy and Jamie, and they only sing together a couple of times. This is a low budget stage play that just happens to be sung. The movie is so small. It’s fourteen songs about the moments in a relationship that don’t feel big until you’re eating Cheesecake Brownie Ice Cream and watching Sleepless In Seattle thinking about every moment you had together. What makes these moments feel big is that they’re sung. Music makes everything feel grandiose, just like the way it plays out in your head.
This movie isn’t without it’s problems. Jamie’s cheating, is an old storyline that feels out of place for Jamie’s character. While Cathy comes off as too much a victim. They break up for Jamie’s cheating, but that’s only implied. Without clearer reasons the movie begins to feel like a waste of time. Why? Thankfully Anna Kendrick sells every song. Thankfully, it kept me watching because the end is delicious.
“Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You” – Cathy and Jamie
Cathy and Jamie sing with each other in their respective timelines, and it hurts. It’s over, and not going to be fixed, but why? The pieces are laid out and the reasons are there, but I’m still hurting.
Submitted by Kevin Cucolo