Dylan Thomas once penned that “though lovers be lost, love shall not,” and with director Victor Levin’s delightful and achingly romantic 5 to 7, two people find each other amidst New York’s busied streets, ready for adventure.
Struggling writer Brian (Anton Yelchin) is in search of a personal story to tell (and hopefully sell). His first glance of Arielle (a luminous and refreshingly vulnerable Bérénice Marlohe) outside Manhattan’s St. Regis hotel immediately seals the deal. Their mutual attraction is instantaneous, giving Brian a newfound inspiration behind his beautiful words.
A stunningly attractive French woman in her early thirties, Arielle seems like a dreamy fit for Brian. Being married and the mother of two kids, however, brings complications to their coupling, and Brian is relegated to meeting Arielle during the daily hours of “5 to 7.”
Although the narrative touches on the manifold complexities of adultery, 5 to 7 is primarily an even-eyed look at the sentimentality and ultimately hard-earned lessons of falling (and staying) in love.
Along with creating an emotionally resonant story, writer-director Victor Levin also crafts a visually arresting tale with the help of cinematographer Arnaud Poitier. Whether it’s shooting within the tight, intimate spaces of a hotel room or capturing the quick lighting of cigarette, 5 to 7’s compositions are definitely eye-catching.
Even though Levin’s love for cinema is evident with 5 to 7 (scenes Jules and Jim are featured in the flick), the story doesn’t exist as a pure homage or regurgitation of the past. Thanks to inspired and illuminating work from Yelchin and Marlohe, 5 to 7, while subtly evoking the memories of excellent New York romance dramas from yesteryear, confidently carves out its own terrain.
Glenn Close and Frank Langella sprinkle a dash of levity as Brian’s loving (and affectionately bickering) parents, with Lambert Wilson adding a touch of gravitas as Valery, Arielle’s even-tempered and supportive spouse. As a book publisher’s assistant (and Valery’s mistress) Olivia Thirlby also captivates in one of the film’s more indelible moments, and to say anything more would be a disservice.
There’s a wonderfully mounted sequence in Central Park, as Brian and Arielle get to know one another. If he wanted to make his life a bit easier, Levin could have placed the actors on a bench, shot with two cameras for coverage, and called it an afternoon. Instead, he opted for a more ambitious choice by shooting the scene in one long take, giving added texture to the proceedings.
The director’s decision to go that extra mile, mixed in with Yelchin and Marlohe’s innate chemistry, infuses 5 to 7 with a grounded reality that elevates the story beyond the average romantic comedy/drama. Days after watching 5 to 7, the film continues to occupy my thoughts.
In my younger days, I’d probably chalk up all this movie delirium to nostalgia and my own romantic tendencies. But sometimes a great film, even as time goes by, is hard to shake. Soulful and heartbreakingly real to the core, 5 to 7 is an absolute charmer, especially if you’re in the mood for love.