Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Anton Yelchin, Bérénice Marlohe, Olivia Thirlby, Glenn Close, Eric Stoltz, Frank Langella, Lambert Wilson
Written by: Victor Levin
Directed by: Victor Levin
MPAA Rating: R for some sexual material
Running Time: 97
Date: 04/10/2015
IMDB

5 to 7 (2015)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Eternal Affair

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Opening today in Bay Area theaters, Victor Levin's 5 to 7 is a writer's movie. Its main focus is on the things that people say to one another, especially people who are in love or hope to be in love.

Levin was a writer on TV shows like Mad Men and on movies like Win a Date with Tad Hamilton (2004), but most of his time was spent on the show Mad About You (1992-1999), which was about trials and tribulations of an intelligent, married couple. He even made his directorial debut on that show.

So 5 to 7 is about a couple that talks, and occasionally succumbs to passion, but then talks some more.

However, Levin is a good enough writer that true feelings come through among the words, and despite the relatively few camera moves or artistic setups, the movie is a fine achievement.

Brian Bloom (Anton Yelchin) is a New York writer, papering his walls with rejection notices.

By his own admission, he spends his days writing, reading, or muttering to himself, until one day when he crosses the street, lights up a smoke and starts talking to Arielle (Bond girl Berenice Marlohe, from Skyfall).

She responds in kind and eventually invites him to meet her between 5 and 7 p.m. in the evening. These are the hours in which respectable, married French women may have an affair. At first Brian balks at being someone's secret lover, but eventually succumbs.

The union does him good. He is 24 and she is 33, but he becomes accepted as part of her family, and meets powerful, influential people. He publishes a story in The New Yorker, finds a full-time editor (Olivia Thirlby), and wins an award. But he wants more. He wants Arielle.

The movie does not turn into a cheap romantic comedy in which love conquers all, but it still acknowledges that Brian and Arielle are actually in love. Rather, it admits that love can be messy and fleeting, but quite beautiful and powerful.

Despite the movie's unassuming visuals, it uses New York at night, in the rain, indoors, and outdoors, all to moody, marvelous effect.

The characters — including Glenn Close and Frank Langella as Brian's parents — always seem to know exactly what to say, but also, Levin seems to know exactly where to place them when they say it.

Movies are always written by someone, and the better they're written, the more watchable they are. 5 to 7 is watchable, and wonderful.

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