I like to read other people’s reviews of films I love and today I was reading reviews about The Last Five Years.
How many times did I read that they didn’t like Jeremy because Jamie came across as selfish and arrogant? How many times did I read that they didn’t like Anna because Cathy came across as withdrawn and naive? Waaaaaay too many. Obviously opinions are opinions but people are missing the point…
People dislike the two actors in these roles for playing the roles correctly. Jamie and Cathy are both meant to be an enigma to the viewer. How does Jamie go from loving Cathy with such intensity that he calls her a goddess to cheating? How does Cathy go from a determined young woman to someone struggling to find her place and resenting her husband? These are all questions you should ask yourself while watching this film!
Neither of these characters is meant to be perfect. Cathy starts off with such a vibrant determination to succeed that it feeds Jamie’s creative process. Jamie starts off with an all consuming passion for everything in life that Cathy, too, is consumed by him in a way she has yearned for.
And then it begins to crumble. She is not successful, she depletes herself in an effort to remain part of him/his success. Her fire burns out and his need to love someone whose fire will continuously ignite his own goes unsatisfied. She wants a “we” and he wants her to be a “her” that can inspire him.
He attempts to help her find herself, the Cathy who he fell in love with that knows she is better than the rest. She locks up her feelings of failure and refuses to verbalize them until she explodes.
Neither is more or less at fault than the other. Neither loved each other more or less than the other at the start. Love is comprised of glorious highs and incredible lows and you have to be on the same page to make it through. These two, at the end, were not even in the same book.
And spoken from personal experience. Sometimes, despite everyone’s best intentions, love doesn’t work…it isn’t forever and it will fail. It’s nasty and it hurts and you never expect it…but it happens. And it fucking sucks. I’ve been a bit of Cathy at the end (withdrawn and resentful) and I’ve been a bit of Jamie at the end (forced to leave in a last ditch effort not to lose myself) and I was BOTH of them at the same time, in the same relationship.
So, if you’ve left the film confused by these two characters don’t look at it as a failure in the way Jeremy and Anna portrayed them. In fact, they’ve actually done their jobs perfectly if that’s how you feel. You are meant to walk away from this film thinking exactly what Jamie and Cathy are thinking when all is said and done…how the fuck did this happen?