Anna Kendrick sure does sing pretty.
And her recent cinematic career is clearly showing off her vocal prowess with a sequel to "Pitch Perfect" coming in May and a pair of theatrical adaptations in "Into the Woods," now in theaters, and "The Last Five Years," opening Friday and available on Video on Demand.
"The Last Five Years" is an adaptation of a musical by Tony Award-winning New York composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown that has played Off-Broadway and regionally and was most recently revived in 2013. His latest Broadway works were, ironically, film adaptations: "The Bridges of Madison County" and "Honeymoon in Vegas."
I have not seen any live performances of "The Last Five Years," so I can't attest to the film's success as an adaptation, but as a piece of musical cinema, it throughly entertains.
The premise of "The Last Five Years" is simple, but the execution is complicated. It's a story about the rise and fall of the relationship between aspiring theater actress Cathy Hiatt (Kendrick) and up-and-coming novelist Jamie Wellerstein (Jeremy Jordan).
The structure takes the story in alternating directions, with Jamie's songs starting at the beginning of the relationship and Cathy's coming at the end. The time jumps meet up chronologically in the middle, and then go on their merry, and not so merry, ways from there.
While there's some dialogue, the film mostly tells the story through the music, and it's easy to follow thanks to Brown's strong songwriting skills.
The tunes are uniformly strong, with some quite catchy and witty. "Shiksa Goddess" is undeniably funny ("I've had Shabbas dinners on Friday nights/ With every Shapiro in Washington Heights") and is still stuck in my head.
And Kendrick and Jordan have lots of chemistry -- certainly more than another couple making their cinematic debut this weekend -- and without any needlessly creepy sex.
Directed by Richard LaGravenese
Starring Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan
Playing @ City Cinemas Village East