Marking one of the first big sales of the Toronto International Film Festival, Radius-TWC has nabbed North American rights to the musical The Last 5 Years. Written and directed by Richard LaGravenese (Beautiful Creatures, Living Out Loud), the film stars Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan as a young couple and chronicles their struggles, both personally and professionally, as their relationship moves from courtship to marriage. The film is based on the 2002 off-Broadway musical written by composer and lyricist Jason Robert Brown.
The Last 5 Years is nearly an entirely sung piece, structured in a non-linear fashion. Kendrick plays Cathy, a struggling actress who meets and falls for Jamie (Jordan), an up-and-coming novelist. The piece is structured by providing both perspectives to their love affair, with Cathy’s expressed backwards from the end of the story to the beginning and Jamie’s from the beginning to the end. Both narrative strands meet in the middle when Jamie proposes. Intimate in tone, the film may provide an antithesis to the upcoming big-budgeted musicals like Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods and Will Gluck’s Annie. Radius co-presidents Tom Quinn and Jason Janego said of the film, “For the romantic of heart, The Last 5 Years is a love story that delivers across the board. Richard has done an extraordinary job with Jason Robert Brown’s music and lyrics. Anna Kendrick continues to impress — what a voice. And Jeremy Jordan is bound for stardom.”
Both Kendrick and Jordan have proven musical chops. Kendrick received a Tony Award nomination at the age of 12 for her performance in the musical High Society and had her big screen break in the musical comedy Camp (2003), where she did a rendition of the totem Stephen Sondheim number “The Ladies Who Lunch.” Since then the Oscar nominee for the 2009 film Up in the Air headlined the 2012 a cappella hit Pitch Perfect (she will appear in the sequel to the film, due in theaters next year) and co-stars as Cinderella in the upcoming Into the Woods. Jordan has had success on Broadway in the musicals Newsies (for which he received a Tony Award nomination) and Rock of Ages. He also appeared in the the 2012 musical film Joyful Noise opposite Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah and in the inside-Broadway television series Smash.
In a fun bit of trivia. The Last 5 Years was written and directed by veteran screenwriter LaGravenese (Oscar nominated for penning The Fisher King and Emmy nominated last year for writing the HBO film Behind the Candelabra), who adapted the best-selling novel The Bridges of Madison County for Clint Eastwood. Earlier this year, The Last 5 Years composer Brown won a Tony Award for writing the score to the Broadway treatment. LaGravenese spoke of the experience of making The Last 5 Years saying, “[The film] has been one of the greatest creative experiences I’ve ever had. Working in the independent film world with such extraordinary talent gave me the freedom to make the movie I wanted.” Radius is planning a Valentine’s Day 2015 release. The Last 5 Years will have its world premiere Sunday, September 7th at the Toronto Film Festival.