5 Flights Up
Richard Loncraine's "5 Flights Up" has charm but its narrative goes up an all too steady and predictable incline. Morgan Freeman is Alex, a passionate painter who loves the idea of a Brooklyn before gentrification, and Diane Keaton is his wife Ruth. The couple is disturbed by Ruth's niece Lily, a supercharged and all business minded realtor (Cynthia Nixon) who urges them to sell their fifth floor apartment.
Keaton is adequate too, yet her Ruth is very similar to past roles from "Annie Hall" on up. Her frets and anxieties are nothing new.
Still, the worry of Ruth and the calmness of Alex make a believable contrast. The more vibrant scenes are in flashback with a charismatic Alex (Korey Jackson) and a fetching Ruth (Claire van der Bloom) in the throes of romance. Although these vignettes are influenced a bit from "Titanic", these young actors give the scenes charge and sweetness, showing an idealist painter obsessively concerned about shared experiences with his beloved.
There is a subplot involving their aging dog Dorothy, a symbol of their relationship. Dorothy gets sick and Ruth is faced with the dog's potential disability.
Throughout the film, potential buyers run thru the apartment giving nasty acidic comments. Lily becomes forceful and annoying.
The nostalgic segments are energized enough without the melodrama of the dog Dorothy or the apartment market value and so much back and forth becomes metallic and noisy.
Sterling Jerins is engaging as a cute and spirited little girl Zoe.
Near the end of the film, when Alex shows the fire of a young man, fizzles out like a diluted egg cream. The pulse that was building up and over, from floor after floor goes flat by Morgan Freeman's Hallmark card words, topped by a dog whose adamant expression matches that of his owner's.
"5 Flights Up" is enough of a trip in showing the wilds of young romance contrasted with the haunt of an older couple. The melodrama of apartment hunting, a senior dog and a shrewish niece merely takes some superfluous steps that carry very little.
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