**THE LAST FIVE YEARS MOVIE/MUSICAL SPOILERS**
I may be late on this bandwagon, but I just watched The Last Five Years with Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan (the movie musical, based on the musical by Jason Robert Brown, who interestingly enough is from Ossining!) for the first time. And after I watched it, I watched it again. And again. And then I put the soundtrack to the movie on my Spotify, because I’m one of those people that doesn’t use iTunes because why pay for music when you can not pay for music? I have a weird obsession with musicals. When the Hairspray movie came out in 2007, I made my dad buy the soundtrack and listen to it over and over in the car, and then I begged him to take me to see the play because I’d memorized all of the lyrics to all of the songs. Same with Mamma Mia. My high school put on Jesus Christ Superstar one year, and Grease and Rent. Most of my friends in high school were musical theater-y people, so I went to see all of the plays and learned a lot of the songs along with them, because they were always singing them all the time. The Into the Woods movie came out a few months ago, and I’m still obsessively listening to the soundtrack. In conclusion, I love musicals.
For those of you who don’t know The Last Five Years, it tells the story of a couple from beginning to end over a period of five years (hence, the name The Last Five Years). The female lead’s (Cathy) story starts off at the end of the relationship, when they’ve just broken up and he’s just moved out of their apartment, and the male lead’s (Jamie) story starts off at the beginning, after they’ve just gone on their first date and are about to sleep together for the first time. It’s a really beautiful story, and the best part about it is that it feels normal, and that makes it so easy to relate to. Cathy is an aspiring but struggling actress, and Jamie is a successful novelist, and they both find love within each other and inspire each other to keep going through hard times. Once Cathy moves to Ohio to find work as an actress, everything goes downhill.
The Last Five Years has a lot of really great songs. When I was listening to the soundtrack, however, I noticed that I was only listening to songs that Kendrick and Jordan sang (respectively, because they almost never sang duets) when their relationship was good and they were both happy. For example, Shiksa Goddess, where Jamie sings about how happy he is to be dating Cathy, who is not a Jewish girl like his mom wants him to date, or Moving Too Fast, where Jamie sings about how happy he is that his book is getting published and how he’s excited he and Cathy are moving in together. There’s also Summer in Ohio, where Cathy has to move to Ohio to find work as an actress and is video chatting with Jamie and telling him how bad her time in Ohio is and how much she misses him, and I Can Do Better Than That, where Cathy and Jamie are driving to visit her parents and she talks about her past relationships and how happy she is with Jamie, and she asks him to move in with her.
My personal favorite is the first half of Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You, (click for link) which is at the end of the movie, and is sung by both Cathy and Jamie. Cathy expresses how happy she is to have found someone like Jamie at the end of their first date, which is how the movie ends with her. That’s why I only like the first half of that song rather than the rest, where Jamie sings about how he’s moving out, how he could never save Cathy from herself, and how much he really tried to love her. It’s bittersweet, really.
What is interesting to me about the soundtrack and my relationship with the soundtrack to The Last Five Years is that even if I wasn’t a part of Cathy and Jamie’s relationship, I subconsciously chose to only listen to the songs Cathy and Jamie sing where everything is fine, and they love each other, they miss each other, they care about each other, and they try to make each other happy and have vested interest in each other. I put my Graduation Goggles* on for a fictional relationship, which makes a lot of sense, but is completely ridiculous. I feel like what people do a lot of the time is they look back on people that aren’t in their life anymore, partners, friends, family members, as being better than they are. I know I do it a lot, and I know I’m doing it now with this musical soundtrack. It’s easy to over-romanticize relationships, it’s easy to miss people when you’ve spent such a large amount of time with them and then all of a sudden they’re not in your life anymore. It’s important to remember when things were good and you were happy.
But happy memories are misleading sometimes, because they make you forget the bad things that happened to get you where you are in this moment. It’s also important to remember that those people aren’t in your life anymore for a reason, and you can’t pick and choose memories because you ended up here, the way that you are now, without that person in your life. In The Last Five Years, Cathy has to move to Ohio to pursue her dream and Jamie cheats on her. It’s not that Cathy and Jamie are happy and will love each other forever and ever, as it feels like they will when I listen to the first half of Goodbye Until Tomorrow/I Could Never Rescue You on repeat. It’s that they had a relationship and good things happened and then bad things happened, and now it’s over. We have to remember that some of the time it’s not “goodbye until tomorrow–” it’s just “goodbye.” P.S. Go watch this movie because it’s amazing.
*There’s an episode of How I Met Your Mother where Robin tries to break up with her dog-like (literally dog-like) boyfriend named Scooby, and when she tries to break up with him she forgets all of the reasons she was going to break up with him in the first place. She thinks about the good times they’ve shared together (cue Sarah MacLachlan’s I Will Remember You), and almost doesn’t break up with him. Barney refers to this as having Graduation Goggles, where you look back on a past relationship or a current relationship and you remember all of the good things about it rather than the reason you broke up/are trying to break up with them in the first place.