At first, Cathy and Jamie sport an array of vibrant costumes, the sky is bluer, and the streets of New York light up with love. Later, a monochrome settles in and overcasts everything as they begin to wear more grey and black, the streets desolate and void. It's a small design decision that carries the visual aesthetic of the film rather elegantly. Pacing issues and clichéd dialogue between Jamie and Cathy, however, can make proceedings tedious at points. Fortunately, the spectacular acting from both Kendrick and Jordan more than make up for it. Their on screen chemistry is tepid and duets feel forced, but when each is on their own and belting out their various parts, there's a definite pull to each.
Kendrick, in particular, sparkles like a rare diamond in a coalmine. She's proved in past movies like Pitch Perfect (2012) and Into The Woods (2014) that she can shine as a musical treasure, but with this role, she is able to bring a level of empathetic vulnerability necessary to make Cathy as endearing as she needed to be. Her optimism is infectious, and because it was so, her disappointment and eventual heartbreak is catastrophically devastating. The Last Five Years is a tragically ordinary tale of what juvenile love can eventually mutate into as people grow older and change. While not cautionary, the decision to end despairingly is the most empowering, honest one that could have been made to make the greatest emotional impact.
Julia Alexander | @loudmouthjulia