I went on a movie watching binge the other day and after watching The Last Five Years I absolutely knew I had to write about it.
In this adaptation of the hit musical, The Last Five Years is a musical deconstruction of a love affair and a marriage taking place over a five year period. Jamie (Jordan), a young, talented up-and-coming Jewish novelist falls in love with Cathy (Kendrick), a Shiksa Goddess and struggling actress. Their story is told almost entirely through song. All of Cathy’s songs begin at the end of their marriage and move backwards in time to the beginning of their love affair, while Jamie’s songs start at the beginning of their affair and move forward to the end of their marriage. They meet in the center when Jamie proposes. (Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes)
Upon finishing this movie, I wanted to scream about it from the rooftops. I kind of did, messaging my best friend about it with increasing frequency and many many capital letters and exclamation marks. It was amazing – the music, the acting, the characters, the lyrics. Everything. The lyrics were comedic and raw and real and painfully astounding. Some of my favourites included;
“Perfectly balanced, then I start making conscious, deliberate mistakes”
“Why am I trying so hard, these are the people who cast Russel Crowe in a musical”
“I wrote a story and we changed the ending”
There is no doubt the whole show is genius. They songs are perfectly balanced and the concept is original and very well translated into a movie (albeit sometimes clunky in transitions).
However, as I was explaining it to my friends that evening over a pizza dinner I realized that the ending is slightly problematic.
You know from the beginning of the movie that their marriage ends in divorce, as you listen to Cathy (played by Kendrick) sing “I’m Still Hurting”.
However, the end of the movie places nearly all of the blame on Cathy for the breakdown of the marriage, despite the multiple affairs Jamie (played by Jordan) has.
The song, titled “Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Couldn’t Save You” features Cathy at the beginning of their relationship, singing about how she doesn’t want to say goodbye, and Jamie at the end of their relationship, leaving their shared apartment with all of his belongings.
He sings about how he couldn’t save her from herself and her self-doubt. And I will admit – she had a lot of self-doubt. And it did damage their relationship. She was jealous of the success Jamie garnered with his writing while she struggled to make it on Broadway. She wanted him to fail so she would feel like less of a failure, which he (rightly) refused to do, singing “I will not fail so you can be comfortable, I will not lose because you can’t win”.
But at no point in the final song does he sing about the affairs he has and the strain this has on their relationship. They are both equally to blame and I find it very frustrating and damaging that the final song in the movie places all the blame on her.
Overall, I would still give it 3.5/5. I loved the music (enough to buy the album for my phone, which I never do), I loved the acting, I loved the characters. I loved that they weren’t perfect and I loved how realistic their flaws were. I just hated how the ending panned out, and I wish they’d explored the strain his affairs had on their relationship more.
(This post was written before changes to my blog, when all posts where categorized by “sparks”. Any and all references to Katy/Everyday/Travelling/Life Sparks or Sparkszine are as a result of this)