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Film review: 5 Flights Up

25 May 2015

If I didn’t know that the new Morgan Freeman film 5 Flights Up was meant to be a drama I would have presumed it was a light-hearted comedy about a couple who had been married 40 years and were facing a ‘downsize their living space’ crisis. Not a laugh-out-loud comedy, but certainly a smile-a-lot one. Because I did find it pleasantly amusing, but if it was meant to be a pull-at-your-heartstrings drama, then director Richard Loncraine missed the mark by a long shot.

The movie, based on the novel Heroic Measures by Jill Cimint, tells the story of Alex (Freeman) and his wife Ruth (Diane Keaton) who are in the process of selling their New York City apartment as they find the 5 flights of stairs are becoming a bit much to walk each day.

Assisting them is their niece Lilly (Cynthia Nixon) who is pushing them along to try and get everything sorted as quickly as possible – much to the annoyance of Alex who feels they are not being allowed to make decisions for themselves.

Backstories include the couple’s elderly dog, who is suffering health issues, flashbacks to important moments in Ruth and Alex’s lives, and a broken down/abandoned truck on the Williamsburg Bridge that may or may not be part of a terrorist plot.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with this movie it does lack any depth in the storyline that would have made it worthy of the term ‘drama’. You don’t feel too involved with the characters, and the suspected terrorist plot, that is meant to tie the movie together, becomes a little lost along the way. 

My thoughts as I left the theatre were people of my parents’ generation are totally going to get this movie, as many of them are going through a similar time of life, but for everyone else it runs the risk of being a bit of a dud. 

What makes the movie still rather enjoyable is the acting abilities of Freeman and Keaton, both of whom possess the ability to take a bland script and make something of it. And plenty of people would no doubt watch it just to listen to Freeman’s deep and delicious voice. The movie was filmed on location, so there are plenty of great shots of New York, and the one-liners/affection between Alex and Ruth are enough to make anyone smile.  

This is a nice movie in the fullest sense of the word, and your parents are going to love it. Treat them to a couple of movie tickets, but perhaps refrain from purchasing one for yourself!

Rating: 2.5/5