Arts & Entertainment, Features

REVIEW: Vapid “5 to 7” doesn’t score much higher

Victor Levin’s film “5 to 7” is titled appropriately, considering the mediocrity of the plot. Although nostalgic and visually compelling at times, on a scale of one to 10, it might settle around a five rather than a seven. While unconventional for a romantic comedy, the dialogue rests excessively on sentimental clichés, overflowing with hackneyed phrases like “life is a collection of memories” and “they say no love is perfect, but then I met you.” So it goes.

Brian (Anton Yelchin) an aspiring novelist spots the alluring Arielle (Bérénice Marlohe) drawing cigarette smoke on the streets of Manhattan. He crosses the street. Together the two incredibly attractive humans get along swimmingly, gallivanting around New York’s most romantic sites from the Guggenheim to Central Park. Alas, there is a snag — Arielle is married. An elegant former French model, the mother of two is married to salt-of-the-earth diplomat Valery (Lambert Wilson).

No glaring problems are prevalent in Valery and Arielle’s marriage, but it is simply not a perfect love (which apparently now exists). For the sake of their adorable children, the two agree on an open relationship during the hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. (very French, non?). While Arielle contends that swinging couples are commonplace in Parisian culture, Brian, a skeptical young American with seemingly little love experience, is hesitant. After a staggering three weeks, however, Brian yields (did I mention Marlohe was a Bond girl?).

This is all brought to our attention within the first 15 minutes of the film. At this point, it is sufficient to say you’ve seen all that needs to be seen. Together, Brian and Arielle, when not running around New York, meet at the St. Regis Hotel for two hours, delving into an untraditional affair. What Arielle does before 5 p.m. and after 7 p.m. is so far unanswered.

Moving at a glacial pace, the film finally reaches its climax. Surprise: Brian and Arielle find that perfect love. Thanks to Valery’s mistress, Jane (Olivia Thirlby), and some connections in the literary realm, Brian’s career burgeons. One of his brilliant short stories about dogs is published in the New Yorker and he is granted a large sum of money.

Using this money to buy Arielle a ring, Brian asks for her hand in marriage and permission to step-father her children. The film finally peaks when the otherwise benevolent Valery, with panache, loudly slaps Brian across the face with a finesse that only a European diplomat could pull off.

Perhaps all “5 to 7” lacked was one more layer to the storyline. What Arielle does before 5 p.m. strangely remains a mystery. Had there been a twist revealing that Arielle was secretly a Russian spy or a personal trainer at a local gym, the film could have brought forth the originality it needed to at least get a seven on the scale. Full of axioms, “5 to 7” is predictable and for the most part boring.

The film dabbles in romance, drama and comedy, never fully doing its job in any category. It’s not funny enough to make one audible chuckle but not quite romantic or dramatic enough to enthrall or even elicit a tear.

Granted, shot in widescreen and taking advantage of Manhattan’s charming aesthetic appeal, “5 to 7” is well-edited and cinematically beautiful. Plus, Brian’s boyish charm and self-deprecating humor along with Arielle’s sultry accent and impressive collection of tasteful dresses together make the slow pace less intolerable.

“5 to 7” left many other questions unanswered, though: how does Arielle have so many well-tailored knee-length dresses? Where can one acquire such a flattering apparel, and does she wear anything else?

Moreover, the bittersweet ending of the movie prompts larger questions about love, as most romantic films do. Through an organized affair Arielle is able to maintain a sound marriage while still finding her “perfect love.” Can such romances be sustained only through affairs in two-hour increments and an expiration date? If only the audience could read Brian’s published novel about Arielle, “The Mermaid,” to garner some insight. Otherwise, we are left to experience these romances through slightly dull, not entirely believable films.

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  1. REVIEW: “REVIEW: Vapid ‘5 to 7’ doesn’t score much higher” leaves no stone unturned, for better or worse

    In her scathing appeal for a return to cinematic decency, our reviewer (Sara Boutorabi) spares director Victor Levin no mercy.

    From time to time, Boutorabi is cruel; always, she is witty. It’s with this wit that she tears the esteemed ‘Mad Men’ producer to shreds, with the arrogant but largely intelligent tone that really only a freshman film student studying at the country’s 42nd top university can pull off with grace.

    With a naive voice (and a fresh face to match, I might add), Boutorabi may indeed change film forever. I’ll put it this way: if Robert Canby were still alive, I’d advise him to start taking computer classes at the learning annex and prepare to enter the 2015 workforce.