The Last Five Years – A Review

I’m not sure I’m going to be able to convey my love for The Last Five Years enough in this post, but I’m going to give it a try.

To put it simply, the film version of the musical The Last Five Years is, in my opinion, a masterpiece. Without a doubt one of the best musicals I have ever seen. I wasn’t fortunate enough to see it when the film was released in the cinema, so when I saw the DVD sitting on a shelf in Brighton’s HMV, I quickly grabbed it and took it straight to the till. My overall expectation of the film was extremely high, having been completely hooked by the trailer, and I was in no way disappointed. If anything, at the end of the film’s 90 minute run, my expectations had been completely exceeded.

There is a charm about The Last Five Years that I have never found in other musicals before. This mainly comes from the fact that the story is easy to relate to. It’s a realistic representation of what can happen in everyday, real life relationships. In the case of The Last Five Years, Cathy and Jamie meet in their early 20s. Jamie; an aspiring author who gets his big break at the young age of 23, and Cathy; a wannabe actress seeking fame for her talent in New York City. The pair experience a rollercoaster relationship throughout the duration of the film, and the audience comes along for the ride.

Cracks soon begin to show in their seemingly perfect relationship, with jealousy and resentment on Cathy’s side as Jamie’s dreams become a reality and hers remain stationary. The fame Jamie experiences from his best selling novel is classic too much too young, and he soon comes to realise that his marriage to Cathy is no longer what he wants. Combined with the almost constant arguing from tension created by Cathy’s envy, the relationship ultimately comes to an end with Jamie leaving Cathy at the very end of the film.

One of my favourite aspects of the film was it’s ability for you to experience every emotion the two protagonists were feeling. The songs are so unique in that they really portray every feeling Jamie and Cathy are experiencing. They really represent the changes that take place in their relationship, starting as young lovers caught up in the beginnings of a new relationship, to blissful newlyweds, bitter rivals, to the end of their marriage. They’re songs that everyone who has experienced love and heartache can relate to, as well as being extremely catchy and memorable, just as any good musical score should be.

The atmosphere of The Last Five Years was every film lovers dream. The mood of the scene could be read before either of the characters broke into song, with the mise-en-scene instantly telling the audience what the mood was going to be of that particular part of the film. It even went as far as the character’s clothes reflecting the moods they were in, something which I absolutely loved.

The plot above all completely fascinated me. Two intertwining storylines, told from the perspectives of two people, one starting from the beginning and working forwards, and the other starting back from the end and going back to the beginning. A truly unique musical and film experience that has really left a mark on me, and that I feel is going to linger on my mind for weeks to come. Whether you’ve heard of the musical before or not, I would highly recommend The Last Five Years for any musical lover, and for all film lovers for that matter. It is a once in a lifetime film, and has instantly made it’s way into my list of all time favourite films.


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