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Delightful “5 to 7” is Handled with Care

VFF centerpiece film redefines the romantic comedy

“5 to 7” begins with struggling New York writer Brian (Anton Yelchin) as he sorts through numerous rejection letters from national publications. In a moment of despair, Brian meets Arielle (Bérénice Marlohe) in what first seems like the beginning to a quaint rom-com. Very early on, Arielle tells Jake she is married with two children; however, this isn’t another film about cheating. Instead, Arielle and her husband agree to have a side relationship in which they can meet their partners from the casual hours of 5 to 7 p.m.

The film balances Arielle’s romantic French influence with Brian’s naïve narration of a struggling New Yorker. While the younger-man-falls-for-a-slightly-older-and-wiser-woman formula is nothing new, the execution of this plot in “5 to 7” is most certainly different. The love triangle is handled in such a way that every character is likeable — a balance of modern love with integrity and humor. Audiences are less likely to side with a certain character as each is alluring in his or her own right.

“5 to 7” is an extremely impressive debut for writer and director Victor Levin, previously known for his work on “Mad Men.” Levin seldom chooses the easy route by which to end his stories, and his film is no exception. There are some predictable turns in this plot — after all, it is a love story — but these, too, are handled with care. Viewers may find themselves changing their minds about what they want to happen and who they want to end up together.

This film has somewhat of a dream cast. There are no terrible links and it manages to get ahold of some big names. Glenn Close and Frank Langella are standouts as Brian’s nagging parents, who desperately want Brian to go to law school. This film also highlights Arielle’s husband Valery (Lambert Wilson), who provides a stronger more masculine presence to intimidate Brian, while Valery’s 5 to 7 p.m. girlfriend Jane (Olivia Thirlby) is an editor and acts as a friend to Brian as well as a potential business partner. Levin provides an interesting complex with Jane — a simpler, more conventional love interest for Brian — but the film never enters this territory.

Marketing the film for an April limited release will admittedly prove to be difficult. There is no villain, nobody to root against, and no clear path to the ending. It smashes the genre label of “rom-com”’ and creates a unique modern American romance with a dash of witty humor. Though this is not the next classic love story, it is miles ahead of any bland Hollywood romance. 


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