5 to 7

Directed By: Victor Levin

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Bérénice Marlohe, Glenn Close, Frank Langella, Lambert Wilson, and Olivia Thirlby

"I will hold your heart more tenderly than my own."
-Valery & Arielle (Lambert Wilson & Bérénice Marlohe)

I've noted this on several occasions before, but the best films often help me to either broaden or reassess my perspective on this big blue world in which we live.  I've rarely said this about films tackling matters of the heart, however.  All that being said, this weekend's 5 to 7 does just that with its unconventional take on love and marriage.  I'm a more traditional guy who views relationships as monogamous (once a couple is exclusive).  With this in mind, the notion of an open marriage is something at which I would normally scoff.  Somehow, 5 to 7 makes me see it like any other relationship, something that helps one grow into the individual he or she is destined to become.

Brian Bloom (Anton Yelchin) is an aspiring writer who has been submitting his short stories on dogs and baseball to a number of publications.  Like anything worth doing, it's no easy task for the young man, and it certainly shows from the series of rejection letters he has received from various magazines.  Though his parents (Glenn Close and Frank Langella) would prefer that he go to law school, Brian writes away to build the future he wants.  That future gets a little brighter when he meets a French woman by the name of Arielle (Marlohe) one day on the streets of New York City.

Taking a Friday afternoon smoke and making amusing references to The Little Mermaid, the two hit it off immediately, and the courtship ensues between Brian and Arielle.  There's just one catch, this mermaid has already been caught, and her husband is named Valery (Wilson).  However, they have an open marriage rooted in old fashioned French customs.  This allows for them to each take a lover from 5 to 7 on weekdays.  It supposedly helps the husband and wife to maintain a happy, healthy marriage.  For Valery, this lover is a young editor named Jane (Olivia Thirlby).  For Arielle, it may just be Brian, though this cultural exchange certainly has him befuddled at first.

It's rare that I find a romance that boasts an emotional gut punch quite like Victor Levin's 5 to 7.  For one hour and thirty seven minutes, Levin takes us on one rollercoaster romance that time and time again challenges conventional notions of love and marriage.  While the film doesn't change my stance on monogamy, it does serve as a tender, heartfelt counterargument to my more traditional position.  Offering both blissful romance and piercing heartbreak, Levin's 5 to 7 presents the notion that some are meant for marrying and others for loving.

Marked by a pleasant effervescence as well as emotional gravitas, 5 to 7 is a simple film that's augmented by some great filmmaking.  The narrative itself is straightforward, detailed, and symmetric.  The score is at times tender and at others majestic; it always manages to resonate in the film's most romantic moments and amplifies its most dramatic ones.  Silence and pacing in the dialogue are also critical in building a moment on screen when Levin doesn't use the score to get the job done.  Finally, terrific camerawork really immerses the viewer in the movie.  It highlights how everything comes together so beautifully in 5 to 7.

The acting is nothing short of impeccable.  For his part as Brian Bloom, Anton Yelchin gives us an earnest 24 year-old who learns how to love and how to write as a result of his perfect love.  It's a sensitive performance that few male actors can pull off quite like Yelchin.  For her part as Arielle, Bérénice Marlohe is simply radiant.  Able to light up the screen with her smile, she's an enigmatic creature.  She's jaded yet passionate, dark yet alluring, and cultured yet inexperienced in the ways of love.  It's an endearing performance marked by both comedy and tenderness.  Supporting performances from Lambert Wilson, Olivia Thirlby, Frank Langella, and Glenn Close are all quite delightful as all four actors are in terrific form and deliver plenty of levity.

I've got nothing but love for 5 to 7.  It's rare these days to find an old fashioned romance like this that is firing on all cylinders.  Finely written, directed, and acted, the film is an endless delight from start to finish.  I'm ready to watch it again.  5 to 7 gets a sober rating.