Love stories are always best when told about an unconventional couple. Some of my favorites are ANNIE HALL and THE GRADUATE. Both about couples that shouldn’t work, but the chemistry is undeniable. I’m a romantic by nature, having latched onto Shakespeare at a young age, so I’m a sucker for a well told tale about star crossed lovers trying to make their lives work out together. One of the great things that I’ve had the pleasure of during the tenure of this site, is seeing more of these, classic ones at that. So it makes me all the more giddy when I happen across a new film that feels as timeless as some of those classics. Recently, there was COMET (review here) and releasing on August 18th, we have IFC Films’ 5 TO 7 starring Anton Yelchin and Bérénice Marlohe.
Yelchin plays Brian Bloom, a young writer trying his damnedest to get published, posting rejection letters on his apartment wall. Trying to make his way in New York City, without much going on in his life besides reading and writing, Brian isn’t finding much luck or even true inspiration. Until one day he’s walking down the street, and he glances across the street, seeing a beautiful woman out for a smoke. Taking a chance, he crosses over, identifies the cigarette by smell of being either Spanish or French, and not knowing any Spanish, strikes up a conversation in French with the lovely Arielle (Marlohe). The two immediately hit it off in a flirtatious conversation, and make plans to meet at the same spot, one week later. After their 2nd meeting, they decide to meet up at another location, with Arielle only available between the hours of 5 to 7.
As explained in the film, a 5 to 7 relationship in France is one where a married couple has an extracurricular relationship, usually in an arranged open marriage. Arielle, not only 9 years older than Brian, is also married and a mother of two children. The hours of 5 to 7 are deemed as times that a person can be out and about with others without being conspicuous, but rarely held to. But Arielle and her husband have a mutual understanding that they are allowed, but stick to the hour time frames as a way to keep things in line. Brian is immediately torn between his desire to start something with her and upholding the Western culture’s view of monogamy.
I’ve truly enjoyed watching Yelchin’s career. As I discussed in my review for BURYING THE EX (here), he’s extremely likable and does a great job working with his scripts. After seeing so many well scripted films of his though, I have to give him credit for having an impeccable taste in picking the roles he goes for. Sure, there are the occasional voice over work that is a pay day (SMURFS 1 & 2), and the flashy STAR TREK reboots, but he finds himself in a world that is well constructed and able to stand up to his sharp wit and delivery. He makes each character his own, but gives them each enough difference that he’s not playing the same thing over and over. As Brian Bloom, it is great to see him start out as an introvert talking to himself on the streets to ultimately being a confident man about town.
Marlohe, best known for her role in SKYFALL and the recent IFC show The Spoils Before Dying, does an admirable job as Arielle. She’s a woman that knows what she wants, committed to her family, but also inventive enough to find a true love of her own. While this sounds a bit odd, the way her character is portrayed, it makes all the sense. She has an abundance of love that laid dormant until Brian entered her life. And usually, with films like these, we only get the perspective of one side, but the filmmakers behind 5 TO 7 opted to give us a peek into her thinking, making it even easier to fall head over heels for the whole story.
Brian’s parents, played by Glenn Close and Frank Langella, are supportive, yet his harshest critics; are none too happy to find out about his relationship, but they are conflicted as they want to see him happy. Langella and Close together have wonderful chemistry, and any time they are on screen, things are elevated even more above where it is. Some of their lines through out had laughing so hard, that I had to check myself, as I was afraid of waking others.
We also get the charming Olivia Thirlby playing Arielle’s husband’s mistress, Jane. Thirlby, best known from JUNO and DREDD, always adds a good amount of whimsy to her characters. Even in darker films, such as THE WACKNESS, she adds a light that brings some levity to the story. As Jane in 5 TO 7, she’s a great counterpart to Brian, as she’s in the same situation, but from a slightly older (1 whole year) viewpoint, as well as being an editor for a successful publisher. And while she has experience that Brian needs, she also has a slight manic feel that peps him up as he’s down. What could have been a throw away character, or even a possible alternate love interest, Jane instead is a well balanced catalyst to moving things forward for both the story and Brian.
5 TO 7 is a beautiful and hilarious love story that rips your heart out in the kindest way possible. And I hope that people get a chance to check it out, as I feel its timelessness and masterful writing and performances can have it stand in the pantheon of great love story films.
5 TO 7 is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from IFC Films on August 18th, 2015.