A fanciful, feel good very French-American romantic comedy, 5 to 7 is part Neil Simon and part Woody Allen. The film concerns a gracious, charming and respectful young man, an aspiring writer, who has a chance encounter on the streets of Manhattan with a glamorous French woman.
Brian (Anton Yelchin) is 24 and Arielle (Skyfall Bond girl Bérénice Marlohe), 33. The spark is instant. But there is a catch and it’s a beauty … a potential deal breaker. She is married to Valery (Lambert Wilson) a sophisticated French diplomat and has two young children. Fortunately, though, the pair has an understanding (the beautiful woman and her husband that is). In a very French way, they allow each other to have trysts, as long as they occur only between the hours of 5 and 7, hence the title. At first Brian is incredulous and recognises that allowing this to go any further would break every rule he ever had for himself, but when it comes to Arielle, resistance is impossible. And so it is that they fall deeply and passionately for one another, the result being that he learns about life in ways he could have only formerly dreamt about. And none of his dreams could be as profound as the reality of what he has. But can two hours every few days ever be enough? What is to become of this? Surely there can be no long-term future together for Brian and Arielle.
In his feature debut, writer-director Victor Levin (Mad Men) breathes new vitality into this archetypal romance and in so doing reminds us of how funny, how tender and how satisfying a love story can be. 5 to 7 is the kind of rom-com that Hollywood has all but forgotten how to make: witty yet wise, sophisticated but instantly accessible and, above all, true to what it means to fall in love, to grow up and to be human. It is also a fairy story, but who am I to pour cold water on passion when it is as debonair as it is portrayed here.
The filmmakers have been careful to ensure what is presented is all about grace (as distinct from salaciousness or sleaze). It is imbued with warmth, good humour and honour. The protagonists can’t be faulted. They are picture perfect.
The cast also includes Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) and Frank Langella (Robot & Frank), who play Brian’s parents. What can I say other than I allowed myself to get lost in the moment and park my cynicism at the door. That is the way to luxuriate in the silver screen as it throws back to yesteryear.
Rated M, let me suggest that 5 to 7 will particularly warm the hearts of women and it scores a 7 out of 10.
Director: Victor Levin
Cast: Bérénice Marlohe, Anton Yelchin, Frank Langella and Glenn Close
Release Date: 5 November 2015 (limited)
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television