5 to 7 (★★★★)

5_to_7_tribeca_film_festival_dig_in_magazineTRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL: The Tribeca Film Festival delivered a punch to my gut (and my heart) over the weekend when I caught the romantic dramedy 5 to 7. Going in, I knew that it was a romance story, but little more than that, and certainly not how funny it was going to be. That being said, writer/director Victor Levin balances out the laughs with some real emotion and some profound sadness, making the rare film of this ilk that can walk that line all but perfectly. Led by a career best performance by Anto Yelchin along with a lovely turn by Bérénice Marlohe (not to mention whip smart and amusing supporting roles for Glenn Close, Frank Langella, and Olivia Thirlby), 5 to 7 is my first surprise of the festival. Not just the best movie of the fest, it’s the best thing I’ve seen in 2014 so far, and it’s not really a close call either. This flick has something real to say about love and what the act of falling in love does to a person. The details of the story itself may be a bit unique, but the moral and the emotions that encompass it are universal. I’m not ashamed to admit that while I laughed a lot during the first half, there were a few times during the final moment where I got choked up, and one part of the last scene brought on the tears. 5 to 7 earned those tears too. Hopefully, it can earn a lot more as the year goes on.

The story begins by introducing us to Brian (Yelchin), a New Yorker in his mid 20’s struggling to make it as a writer. One day, while out on a walk in the streets of Manhattan, he passes by the St. Regis Hotel and spots a beautiful woman. He works up the courage to cross the street and talk to her, learning that her name is Arielle (Marlohe) and that she’s a French woman who has a smoke break at the same time each week. Immediately smitten, Brian meets Arielle again and they go on a date, which Brian thinks is going well until Arielle reveals that she’s married to a French diplomat and has two small children with him. Brian thinks that that’s the end of it, but Arielle is hoping to take Brian as a lover, much like her husband has done with book editor Jane (Thirlby). After some thought, he’s in, despite the utter bewilderment of his parents (Close and Langella). Everything is wonderful, though only between the hours of five and seven each night. He even is friends with her husband Valerie (Lambert Wilson). Eventually though, that’s not enough for Brian, and feeling that Arielle is in love with him too, he makes an all or nothing play for her heart.

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I’ve long been a fan of Anton Yelchin, but he’s never been better than he is here. Not only is he very amusing and perfectly plays a young New York writer, but he hits the sadder emotional notes in a way that will blow you away. In a just world, Yelchin would be a Best Actor contender later on this year for this performance. The chemistry he shares with Bérénice Marlohe and Olivia Thirlby is terrific as well, though especially with Marlohe, with whom he has a tremendous romantic vibe. Marlohe is strong as well, helping to sell an admittedly foreign concept in such a way that you can see the appeal. Thirlby’s character could have become little more than a plot device, but her performance and the writing too combine to prevent that. Glenn Close and Frank Langella put an amusing spin on the time honored tradition of jewish parents in cinema, while other supporting players include the aforementioned Lambert Wilson as well as Eric Stoltz and David Shannon, to name a few. This is Yelchin’s show though, through and through.

Victor Levin has had a long career as a screenwriter, but nothing in his filmography suggests the sort of brilliance that his screenplay here depicts. Likewise, for a directorial debut, this is just fantastic. Levin has a feel for mixing comedy and drama that many a veteran has struggled with. In fact, the tone is decidedly light for the first half of the movie. It’s only in the third act where things take a very serious turn, going in a direction that not many flicks would dare to go. Levin was able to bring out tears of mine without any manipulation, so that should tell you something. I’d love to see Levin’s script get into the Best Original Screenplay conversation when that develops in the fall.

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Without question, 5 to 7 is the best thing I’ve seen so far at the Tribeca Film Festival (out of a dozen films seen as of the writing of this review) and for the year on the whole so far too. With an awards worthy script and lead performance from Anton Yelchin, this is a damn near perfect bit of cinema. My first four star review of 2014 is an absolute must see. I’ll be banging the drum for 5 to 7 much more when it gets an official release, but for now, start getting excited for this one.

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!

About Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of Indiewire's Criticwire Network as well as the Internet Film Critics Association.
  • Joey Magidson

    This is a must see folks.

  • moviewatcher

    You did your job, Joey. “5 to 7” is now on my radar for the year. Let’s hope it gets a release date soon.

    • Joey Magidson

      That’s the kind of thing that I always like to hear.

  • Cornelius Buttersby

    Oscar potential?

    • Joey Magidson

      I think the screenplay is worthy, so it all depends on release strategy and things of that nature.

  • Pantelis Kissonergis

    Damn you Joey you got me all worked up about it. As a Greek person living in Dubai , the soonest I expect to see this movie is January 2015!!!!

    • Joey Magidson

      It’s worth getting worked up about.

  • Pantelis Kissonergis

    I honestly believe that this could be a great movie the only thing i’m bit skeptical about is Yeltchin’s performance. He is not a bad actor and he showed early in movies such as “Hearts is Atlantis” that he can act. My concern is that he acting talent isn’t mature enough at this point to pull something so amazing. Rory Culkin on the other hand is someone to look out for , cause he has been always amazing , and with whatever part he got offered he managed to standout .

    • Joey Magidson

      Well, I can certainly vouch for how good he is in this one.

  • Lori

    I am late to this because I only just saw this movie. I loved it. I loved the acting, story, passion and humor. I know it was not perfect but it was better than most romantic love stories I have seen in a very long time. This movie brought out every emotion in me and still leaves me guessing at the end but the profound sadness also came with a ray of hope that true love can exist alone in its own atmosphere and survive on its own energy. These two lovers seem to be equally heartbroken and yet each moved on taking each other with them. It is only us, the viewer, who wishes for a happier ending because we are so touched by the script and performances. This one will stay in my heart for a very long time. I suggest it be watched multiple times to pick up on things possibly missed. But trust me, the ending stays the same. Oh that look on Arielle’s face. I have about 4 possibilities as to what it means. Loved it.

    • Joey Magidson

      Better late than never. I’ve seen it a handful of times since this initial one and it only gets better. I’m delighted you loved it!

      • Lori

        How kind of you to write to me. I agree, it does get better. It is witty and passionate and kind. It is happy and sadder than sad. It caused me to think what would I do in the same situation. Was it worth losing her completely? Should he have waited it out for a longer period of time to let Arielle realize 2 hours a night was not enough? But she already knew…she wished it was “tomorrow at 5”. He wanted it all and got nothing and yet he got everything he ached for before he met her; a story to write and the words and heart to write it with. As he wondered himself were the words worth the price? It was not for him to say. And yet it was. And it appeared that 5 years or so had passed and she still wore the ring. She still wore it. He still was looking for her in every tall brunette he saw. Such a little film with huge consequences and depth. The combination of wit and depth is what got me. And when we finally got to see her point of view when he read the letter we saw that she saw him before he saw her and she was instantly hooked. Instantly. And then a few seconds later she turned away and composed herself and he crossed the street for the first time in his life.

        It is so sad that Anton passed away. Heartbreaking. Too young to die in such a tragic way. I will always be grateful for this performance. I had hoped there would have been a sequel but then again, that is the romantic in me. I know the story is over. Thanks again for your response and have a safe and happy holiday.

        • Joey Magidson

          Agreed and my pleasure. Always happy to respond.