After some respectable musical efforts in awful films (Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods), Anna Kendrick takes a nice leap forward in this film adaptation of the off-Broadway musical. She plays Cathy, a woman we see singing a mournful post breakup song at the film’s beginning. Her husband, newly famous writer Jamie (Jeremy Jordan), has just left her for superstardom and multiple girlfriends. The film then flashes back to show moments over the last five years of their lives, with almost all of the dialogue being sung. The two stars, especially Kendrick, have exceptional voices, and do much of their singing live. The music itself isn’t all that memorable, but it’s not bad and does require Kendrick and Jordan to use their upper register often. They both have impressive pipes. What drags the film down a bit is that the Jamie character is a bland, typical, reprehensible prick. That could work fine, but he’s portrayed sympathetically instead of for the asshole he is. The script calls for more humor and less sap. Still, the technical aspects of the movie are exemplary. The film, directed by Richard LaGravenese, was shot in about three weeks on a miniscule budget, but still winds up being a rather competent exercise in musical theater. In the end, it shows that Kendrick is the absolute real deal. (Available for rent on iTunes, On Demand and during its limited theatrical release.)

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