A long-time married couple who've spent their lives together in the same New York apartment become overwhelmed by personal and real estate-related issues when they plan to move away.
Quite refreshing to see two well-known actors Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton in roles that are probably not too far from who they are in real life. The two play a retired married couple living in Brookland New York who are in search of a new apartment that has either a lift or is situated closer to the floor.
Alex (Freeman) is very reluctant to move and manages to find fault in everybody that shows any interest in their fifth floor apartment. However, the reality of a struggling heart, five flights of stairs and Ruth’s (Keaton) insistence on finding somewhere more practical forces him to join her in a hunt across New York City for a new apartment. That search for the very hard to find piece of the Big Apple introduces the New York veterans to some very interesting house hunters along the way like the career critics, the nosey parkers, those with nothing else to do and of course the few that are actually looking for an apartment.
There are several story threads that keep the pace of the movie interesting, some of which even we here in New Zealand are able to relate to like super inflated house prices. Alex, an aging master painter of portraits is quite surprised to discover how the value of their modest apartment has soared to almost a million dollars in the past forty years but is soon brought down to earth when he imagines that the replacement price is most likely going to be the same. Strike a chord with you? It did me. There’s also the beloved dog story, the story of an overzealous realtor who happens to be a niece, a string of pushy, impatient buyers who provide some of the grease that keeps this story moving along. Then of course there’s the story of Alex and Ruth growing up in America as a mixed race couple which is possibly the main purpose of this film. Through the eyes of Alex, by way of flash-backs, we experience some of the many struggles they faced during a very racially divided America. I must admit that for the first quarter of the movie I was hoping for a little more pace but as this story unfolded it began to grow on me with its many light moments and the more serious subject matter.
I have no problems with recommending this film to a more mature audience as they would possibly relate to the subject matter quite easily. I would also recommend it to a younger audience that enjoys the idea or notion of New York City. Ultimately I would have to say that in order for this film to have worked perfectly for me it needed to be directed by someone like Woody Allen who has worked so masterfully with this genre in the past. Having said that, I did find lots to enjoy when watching.
DVD Releases: 20th January 2016
Duration: 92 minutes
Duration: 92 minutes
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton, Carrie Preston, Claire van der Boom, Cynthia Nixon
Director: Richard Loncraine (Firewall, Wimbledon)
Based on a novel called "Heroic Measures," it was renamed "Life Itself," then "Ruth and Alex," then "5 Flights Up."