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5 Flights Up
5 Flights Up is a romantic-drama film based upon a novel written by Jill Ciment. The film was produced by Curtis Burch, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary, Tracy Mercer, and Charlie Peters. The film stars Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton as Ruth and Alex Carver. It was directed by Richard Loncraine (Firewall, Wimbledon).
The story of 5 Flights Up revolves around the events surrounding Alex (Morgan Freeman) and Ruth (Diane Keaton). They are an aging couple who has decided they should move out of their beloved Brooklyn, NY apartment and find a different apartment with an elevator they can use. Their current apartment only has stairs and they have to go up five flights of them.
Over the course of the film, Alex and Ruth deal with the business of showing off their apartment, looking for a new apartment, and entering bidding wars both for their own apartment and the one they are interested in. They also take their sick and elderly dog to a doctor and have to try to save the dog from passing away by granting a $10,000 surgery.<>Ruth's niece happens to be a real-estate agent named Lily (Cynthia Nixon). Lily helps them to auction off their apartment and deal with the proceedings. Ruth and Alex Carver also see that local news reports a terrorist on the loose and regularly check the TV with their visitors to see updates on the story.
The film alternates between the story of their attempts to sell their apartment, to get their new apartment, and in showing occasional flashbacks to memories they have had together in their apartment. In a few scenes of the film, the story shifts focus to showing how Alex and Ruth overcome the racial prejudice of the times against their relationship when they were young. If the film had spent more time on this sub-plot, it would have been more interesting.
Basically, though, the story is mainly about them trying to sell their apartment and move into a new one so that they can have an elevator accessible because they are getting older. It's a story about their nostalgia for their apartment and their moving aspirations. The story also explores their finances and how well-off they are. Alex is a painter and artist. They own an apartment worth around one million dollars and don't seem too concerned over finances: only concerned so far as hoping they will get a sale from their apartment that will come close to covering a new one.
The film wasn't as good as it could have been. The film largely works when it does because of strong performances given from Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton. Both are likeable in the performances. I enjoyed their effort. They made Ruth and Alex Carver more interesting than what was there in the script.
The storytelling is disappointing as it focuses largely on the sale of their apartment and on their search for a new apartment to purchase. This doesn't make for a very entertaining movie. It just drags a lot because there's so much focus on them having an open-house, listening to bids from interested buyers, and looking for their new apartment.
I don't know how big of a market there is for movies about people looking to sell an apartment and buy a new one. It's not exactly great drama. The film is more interesting when it flashbacks to the characters as a young couple and tells their story. Even then, the film seems to randomly flash back on them and it often seems badly interspersed between other scenes.
The cinematography was by Jonathan Freeman (Remember Me, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones) is one of the highlights of the film. The film looks lovely. The photography of New York is often stunning and Freeman does a great job highlighting the beauty of the area. This looks well produced and adds a lot to the film's style.
The screenplay by Charlie Peters (3 Men and a Little Lady, My One and Only) gives the story drama through bidding wars and the health concerns over their dog having to go into surgery. Sadly, a large portion of the film is just the main characters looking at apartments and talking about their own.
Director Richard Loncraine gets solid performances from Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton, and Cynthia Nixon but there doesn't seem to be a great pace to this film. It's a bit boring and could have been cut-back to something shorter. The music is composed by David Newman (Ice Age, Serenity) and sounds reasonably good as background music but doesn't make a big impression for a Newman score.
Overall, 5 Flights Up was moderately engaging at times because of the performances by the leads, but the film is so light on story that the film seems overlong even at its 93 minute run-time. The effort feels like a passable rental at best. This film is often dull but is sporadically interesting enough to watch once.
5 Flights Up arrives on Blu-ray with an impressive MPEG-4 AVC encoded 1080p High Definition image in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The encoding is strong. The cinematography by Jonathan Freeman showcases the beauty of NY. The colors are rich. Ultimately, 5 Flights Up looks good in HD and the Blu-ray release will satisfy audiences.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is a technically proficient lossless audio mix which provides the film presentation with good dialogue reproduction. As far as surround sound mixes go, this one is a pretty lackluster one, though. The film sounds almost entirely like a stereo audio track and doesn't really utilize the surrounds much at all.
Subtitles are provided in English SDH (for the deaf and hard of hearing), Spanish, and French.
This release comes with a HD UV code and a slipcover. There are no on-disc supplemental features included with this release at all.
5 Flights Up features strong performances by Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton. What it doesn't feature is a good story to keep things engaging enough for even its brief run-time. Audiences hoping for passable entertainment might want to rent it for the performances delivered by Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton but the script is ultimately disappointing and makes this a similarly disappointing film.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.