Actress and singer Anna Kendrick seems to be the current go-to girl for modern film adaptations of Broadway musicals. Not only will she be appearing as Cinderella in Into the Woods on Christmas Day, the 29-year-old is set to appear in the film adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s musical The Last Five Years.
In the film Kendrick will play Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress who meets and forms a relationship with an up and coming novelist, Jamie Wellerstein. What makes this story so compelling is that Cathy’s story is told in reverse chronological order (beginning at the end of their marriage) and Jamie’s is told is chronological order (beginning as the couple first meets). The only moment their timelines intersect is during a wedding song in the middle.
Jamie is played by Smash’s Jeremy Jordan. Brown, the creator of the musical, also appears in a scene of the film as a pianist at one of Cathy’s auditions.
Filming began last summer in New York City and wrapped up within a month. The Last Five Years is set for release on February 13, 2015 but debuted at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Fans of musical are excited about the release of the film, but some reviewers are already critical. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the relationship between Cathy and Jamie is “not interesting enough to sustain realistic treatment.”
“It’s sweet but a tad dull,” David Rooney wrote after the premiere in Toronto. “The two characters lack dimension, and their stereotypical situations seem entirely generic. This has always been the case in a piece admired more for the lush melodies and naked emotions of Brown’s theater-pop score than for its storytelling. The evolution of the relationship is the show’s entire universe, and putting that relationship against a real-world backdrop exposes the narrative as emaciated and mundane.”
Variety’s review does match Rooney’s in some ways, but it also reads that part of the film does improve on the stage version in that the audience gets to see the “crooned-over emotions writ large on the faces of its two terrific lead performers.”
Although in the current musical limelight, Kendrick never planned on doing a bunch of movie musicals in a row.
“Into The Woods and The Last Five Years are two of the greatest pieces of musical theater ever,” she said, “so obviously it was a dream come true. I think I would enter into something else cautiously.”
In addition to Into the Woods and The Last Five Years, Kendrick will reprise her role of Beca Mitchell in Pitch Perfect 2, set for release on May 12, 2015.