Review: Songs tell story of emotions in a relationship

AP News
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Posted: Feb 09, 2015 11:01 AM

"The Last Five Years" (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) (Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight)

Hollywood went to two actors with Broadway backgrounds to star in the film version of the musical "The Last Five Years" — and it paid off.

Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan star as a young New York couple who fall in, and then out, of love. She's a struggling actress. He's a writer who finds success. Both Kendrick and Jordan have Tony Award nominations on their resumes, and they have perfect voices for the sometimes emotional lyrics, which trace the couple's relationship in an inventive way.

The characters alternate songs, starting with Cathy as she mourns the end of the relationship and Jamie excited at the beginning. By the end of the movie Jamie leaves Cathy and she's singing about just meeting him.

(A note for Valentine's Day romantics, despite the release date this isn't uplifting material. It aims to depict a real relationship and all of the aches, pains and tears that come with it. It can be heartbreaking.)

Two-time Tony winner Norbert Leo Butz and Tony nominee Sherie Rene Scott are previously best known in the roles, featured in the 2002 off-Broadway cast recording of Tony winner Jason Robert Brown's show. Now Kendrick and Jordan take the reins in a more richly produced soundtrack that keeps the theater feel.

The soundtrack keeps all the production's songs, some bright and bubbly and others sad and somber. Kendrick and Jordan let the emotions come through their singing voices. He tells her, growling with anger, "No one will give you courage. No one can thicken your skin." Earlier on, in a despondent tone, she sings that she's "covered with scars I did nothing to earn."

"The Last Five Years" isn't a show filled with catchy tunes, but it does want to take you through thoughtfully written songs that tell the story of all of the emotions that go into a relationship. Let them.