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« Sundance: This Girl Walks Alone Into Greatness | Main | Sundance: Sophomore Directors Soar in 'Listen Up Philip' & 'I Origins' »
Saturday
Jan252014

We Can't Wait #11: The Last 5 Years

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Jose Solis on The Last 5 Years.]

The Last 5 Years
A musical based on Jason Robert Brown's Off Broadway sensation about a crumbling young marriage which is told forward and backward in time simultaneously

Talent
Oscar nominee Anna Kendrick and stage star Jeremy Jordan (Newsies and Bonnie and Clyde on Broadway, Smash on TV)

Why We Can't Wait
When Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years debuted in 2001, the composer probably never expected his intimate musical (based on his relationship with ex-wife Theresa O'Neill) to become the theater sensation it would turn out to be. Although it was never Cats or Phantom-like in its success (the show has never actually been done on Broadway) the Chicago production and its subsequent Off-Broadway staging turned stars Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott into the doomed-lovers-of-choice of myriad theater geeks who still show up audition after audition carrying the music and lyrics to "Goodbye Until Tomorrow".

Brown's musical, with its complex structure and twists, always had a cinematic feel to it and dreams for a film version were only marred by the knowledge that Hollywood would screw an adaptation by hiring movie stars with no voices. Then suddenly it seemed as if the theater gods aligned all the stars when news came that musical veterans Kendrick and Jordan would play the leads.

Even though new musicals are rarely written for the screen any more, The Last 5 Years has the advantage of being unfamiliar enough to broader audiences that it will feel like it's completely fresh. After her success in dramedies (did you love her as much as I did in Drinking Buddies?), Billboard and the web, Oscar nominee Kendrick might finally have the year we've all been hoping she'd have with this and her role in Into the Woods, while Jordan has a face and a voice that were just made to have people fall in love with him the moment they see/hear him.

But the one thing making me some fans doubtful is the show's director Richard LaGravenese who, apologies to his fans, hasn't directed anything decent since Living Out Loud sixteen years ago. His latest adaptations (Water for Elephants and Beautiful Creatures) have left much to be desired and most of his movies aimed at romance lovers have resulted in corny snoozefests that range from the preposterous (P.S. I Love You) to the utter and completely dull (The Horse Whisperer) but then you think of Holly Hunter in Loud, that advance screening in mid-December and especially about the magic of Brown's music (I'm already sobbing thinking about it) and you realize that yeah, this one might do just fine.

Previously: #12 Gone Girl | #13 Can a Song Save Your Life |  #14 Veronica Mars | Introduction

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Reader Comments (10)

Pro Tip: if you show up with Jason Robert Brown music at an audition without your own accompanist, you're going to have a bad time. His stuff doesn't make sense on the page until you play around with it for a while. When I play auditions, I visibly recoil when his music hits the piano. He's a wonderful composer and I consider myself a fan; he just writes for himself and the rhythms never line up on the page the way they should.

That said, I have auditioned with Moving Too Fast when the casting people want singer/musicians. And I can play most of The Last 5 Years at this point because I'm obsessed with that score.

Can't wait for the film. I'm predicting it's a total disaster and I want to see every glorious moment. It's so rare to see actors the actual age of the characters do these parts and I don't know if any part of this production will work. My biggest worry is Jamie and Cathy interacting in every song in every scene because it's a film. That's...one way to do it.

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

'Jordan has a face and a voice that were just made to have people fall in love with him the moment they see/hear him.'

HAHA, this guy is terrible. I've never seen him on stage, but he had zero charisma & did not show any acting talent on Smash.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteranonny

I also thing he's totally wrong for this role.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I learnt who Jason Robert Brown is a couple of months ago through watching an appearance of him at a Dramatist Guild thing and he seemed very smart and serious about his work so I'm very interested to see this movie.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

anonny -- I agree that Jeremy was terrible and offputting in Smash. And I didn't like him in Bonnie & Clyde either (didn't see Newsies) so I'm hoping for a miracle and that he magically finds charisma somewhere. :) But I wish i was as optimistic as Jose. I'm closer to where Robert G is. I am expecting a disaster but dying to see it anyway because i love the musical so much.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Jordan is wrong for Jamie. He can sing it, sure, but he's too drop dead pretty for the role. I am still excited, obvi.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

Bad first impressions are so hard to combat. I feel that it will take years of good performances from Jordan to wear away the loathing I felt for him on Smash. I realize it's important to be fair, but I feel that irritation that his part didn't have to be that bad, and attribute it to flaws as an actor.

I have a bit of the same problem with Kendrick, with a bad first impression that I'm trying to get over. I saw her in the Twilight series, and she was the worst actress in that, and you know that bar wasn't very high. I'm trying to readjust my thinking on her, thinking she was just stuck in a genre she didn't get, but is different when she's in a part and a genre suited for her talents. I'm working on it, but I don't feel any enthusiasm yet.

Too bad, because this musical sounds great. I wish I'd seen it with the stage cast.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

I don't think Kendrick was bad the Twilight series. She was obviously so over it from the get-go. She was the only thing that kept me going when I was dragged to see those movies.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

How odd, I thought Jeremy was the main reason to be excited about this. I'm really excited/anxious to see him hopefully do "Moving Too Fast" justice. Admittedly, problematic in SMASH (but it's so weird how everyone who went to the HIT LIST concert at 54 Below mentioned how charming he was playing essentially the same character there, so chalk it up to SMASH issues).

Jamie is already such a difficult role, but I'm more confident in him than I am in Anna who I'm having such a hard time warming to - especially in this role. I really need to stop recasting every musical Anna role with Evan Rachel Wood, but she'd nail Cathy's hard edges, no?

(Also, BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is lovely, thank you very much Jose.)

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

I was at the cast/crew screening. You guys, there is no need to worry.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDMcG

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