Anna Kendrick, Jeremy Jordan Screen 'The Last 5 Years' for Buyers
The stars, director and composer of the indie seeking U.S. distribution talked about how the intimate musical is both relatable and different from what viewers might expect.
In New York Monday night, Anna Kendrick debuted one of the many musicals she has in the works: the big-screen version of the off-Broadway cult fave The Last 5 Years.
The Pitch Perfect actress, co-star Jeremy Jordan (formerly of Broadway's Newsies and NBC's now-canceled Smash) and writer-director Richard LaGravenese screened the indie film for several buyers in hopes of landing U.S. distribution. A screening for buyers also took place in L.A. Monday night.
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LaGravenese said he chose intimate screenings, instead of the festival circuit, as the best way to find a buyer.
"I didn't want to take the festival route. It's not that kind of film," the writer-director explained. "It needs special care. You'll see when you see it. It's not like anything else. It's a very unusual film."
The film, which jumps around between the beginning, middle and end of a love story between an actress (Kendrick) and a novelist (Jordan), is an intimate, music-driven experience.
"It's an emotional journey, and it's not about knowing where you are story-wise in time," LaGravanese told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's about feeling where you are emotionally with the relationship, and everyone who, so far, has seen it, people who didn't know the score, may not have known what time or year they were in, but they emotionally knew where they were with the relationship. And that's what I was trying to do, was not make it too linear, and not to treat the audience as someone that had to be led. I wanted them to go with the ambiguity of it and feel it. And ambiguity causes the audience to participate, because they have to fill in the blanks, and that's kind of what I wanted to have happen."
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Composer Jason Robert Brown, who wrote the original musical and scored the film, told THR that while The Last 5 Years is "a very personal piece" for him, it also has universal themes that resonate with audiences.
"It's a piece that just means a lot to me," Brown said. "And it's a piece about what it means to be in love and what it means to be ambitious and what it means to be young and think you have it all figured out, and then not to know that."
Kendrick, who in addition to working on Pitch Perfect 2 also has a movie version of Into the Woods coming out, said she thinks the musical's honest portrayal of relationships is relatable.
"Everybody that I've met who's familiar with the material or who has seen it even once feels like they see pieces of themselves and past relationships that they had," the actress told THR. "I think Jason does such a terrific job about being honest about ups and downs of relationships. And about being honest about the fact that sometimes it's complicated, and it might not be anybody's fault, or it might be somebody's fault, but relationships are complicated, and people relate to that."
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Although Kendrick, who was a fan of Brown's work but was previously unfamiliar with The Last 5 Years, discovered the musical as she worked on the film, Brown pointed out that the movie is a much more intimate experience than the stage production.
"[The film is] a very different experience than the show is in a lot of ways, even though there's really almost no alteration from the script of the play," he explained. "It's a much more immersive experience in a lot of ways. It's a very intense thing, to be pulled in that closely to the actors…The show in a way is more of a musical experience -- it's about watching a bunch of things get pieced together on a musical level, and the film is a much more intense bit of storytelling."
Jordan, who had previously seen a rough cut of the film but was excited to see the finished version, said the movie was both "what he expected and not what he expected."
"You do the film and you know you're kind of a part of it, but you don't really see what it looks like," he said. "Acting something out, staging it in the real world, is incredibly different than what's actually shown onscreen, so it's really incredible how different it was to see it, sort of, than what I thought it would be in my mind. I was thrilled."