Aspiring writer Brian (Anton Yelchin) has a smoke with a beautiful woman, Arielle (Berenice Marlohe), outside a swank restaurant on Manhattan and the two casually flirt. When they finish their cigarettes, he asks to see her again. She says yes, but only between the hours of “5 to 7.”
I am not a fan of rom-com-dram but there is a likable quality to “5 to 7” that had me charmed from start to finish – mainly because of the chemistry between Arielle and Brian, and Arielle herself, who is jaw-dropping gorgeous.
The premise to the film is very French and cosmopolitan, with Arielle and her husband, Valery (Lambert Wilson), having a mutual understanding that having a lover is fine, as long as it takes place between the titular hours. The twist is: naïve and very un-cosmopolitan Brian is shocked and, initially resists Arielle’s ample charms. That reluctance soon ends (he is only human, after all), and an idyllic romance begins, sticking to his lover’s rules. But, of course, the idyll will come to an end. Getting to that end is the draw to “5 to 7.”
Long time television producer-writer Victor Levin makes his feature directing debut with an assured hand in both telling a story and eliciting solid performances from all involved. Anton Yelchin conveys the wonder a young man would have if a beautiful, slightly older, French woman turned her eye to him. Berenice Marlohe, a former Bond babe (“Skyfall”), exudes sex appeal, class and intelligence and, yes, incredible beauty and poise that would knock the socks off any guy. The sparks between the two are almost visible. Glenn Close and Frank Langella, as Brian’s parents, Arlene and Sam, steal the show with subtle Jewish kitsch, especially when Brian introduces them to his mistress, who also has two young children.
“5 to 7” does something that few rom-com-drams can: keep me interested and entertained in a genre of which I do not claim to be a fan. That is pretty good in my book. I give it a B.
When aspiring writer Brian Bloom (Anton Yelchin, 2009's "Star Trek") spies Arielle (Bérénice Marlohe, "Skyfall") outside the St. Regis Hotel, he's thunderstruck. Joining her smoke break, he strikes up a conversation and charms the sophisticated French beauty. When he asks if he can see her again, she agrees, but tells him she can only meet between the hours of "5 to 7."
After executive producing and writing for such television series as 'Mad About You' and 'Mad Men,' writer/director Victor Levin makes his feature film debut with this offbeat love story that challenges American sexual Puritanism with French open-mindedness. Yelchin has an open, fetching awkwardness versus Marlohe's kindly worldliness and their characters' cultural clash makes for fine comedy. If only Levin hadn't chosen to have his more liberal characters go all conventional for his third act romantic obstacle, a big wobble that the film struggles to right itself from. Levin's witty dialogue, generational insights and some unique visual ideas should be the main takeaway here though.
Take his opening montage, a lovely look at the memorial plaques on Central Park benches which Bloom cites as a writing benchmark in his opening monologue, which concludes as he sits at his desk, his wall papered with rejection letters. Clearly the story we're about to see will introduce his muse, who is not only French, but 33 to his 24, married to elegant French diplomat Valery (Lambert Wilson, "Of Gods and Men") and the mother of two. Brian discovers all this on their first planned date at the Guggenheim and recoils at the notion of Arielle's discretely open marriage. The attraction, so clearly evident in their banter over entirely different takes on art (Levin shoots from the paintings' POV), proves too strong, though, and once they've met inside the St. Regis Brian is head over heels.
He's surprised, too, when he's invited to Arielle's home, arriving to be introduced to such heavy weights as Alan Gilbert, Julian Bond and Daniel Boulud (playing themselves) by his lover's husband, the perfect host, whose own lover, Jane (Olivia Thirlby, "Juno," "Dredd"), is also present. Jane is not only Brian's age, but book editor, but if you're thinking what I thought, think again. Bloom's pulled further into Arielle's family life when he's recruited to baby sit on an emergency basis and his easy manner with her children pushes him to take the action which will change everything.
Besides the utterly believable connection between the film's two stars, "5 to 7's" greatest strength is the fun Levin has with contrasts. When Brian first learns Arielle's name, his immediately jumps to Disney's "The Little Mermaid," a comparison which astounds her with its American corn fed implications (later, Levin will counterpoint with Godard's "Bande a Part"). The generational and cultural comparisons really lift off with the introduction of Brian's parents, Arlene (Glenn Close) and Sam (Frank Langella), whose quirks provide amusing insights into their son's upbringing.
With "5 to 7" Levin has made a film that's like a marriage between American screwball romantic comedies and the French New Wave and it largely works. While the final act is overworked its emotional conclusions are spot on.
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