Review: 5 Flights Up

Struggling artist Alex (Morgan Freeman) and retired teacher, Ruth (Diane Keaton) have been living in the same New York apartment, happily married, for over forty years. But now, their old bones too frail to cope with five flights of stairs, they’re selling up. Cue a disproportionately large amount of screen time given over to real estate offers and counter-offers. That’s pretty much it plot-wise. Except for Dorothy, their cute old dog, whose ailing health leads to an expensive veterinary visit. Oh, and a satirical background breaking news story, involving the media getting, in Alex’s words, “worked up over nothing”, and driving down Brooklyn property prices with their terrorist scaremongering.

I’ve not read Jill Ciment’s novel on which this is based, nor will I, if it inspired a film so full of poor one-liners, and predictable plotting. The ending is obvious from the start. The moral hammered unsubtly home. The dog’s called Dorothy, as in The Wizard of Oz. “There’s no place like home.” Adding insult to injury, director Richard Loncraine invites unfavourable comparison to Woody Allen’s Manhattan, casting, in Keaton, the same lead actress, and repeatedly shooting her and Freeman at what appears to be the same park bench, by the same bridge, utilised in Allen’s far superior rom-com.

Despite Keaton and Freeman’s considerable charisma, this slight, undemanding, gently humourous movie, cynically aimed at the grey-haired market, had me yawning like Dorothy the dog anaesthetised for surgery. Don’t get me wrong. I like old people. One day, I plan on being one. But this schmaltz is the Hollywood equivalent of a sentimental greetings card. Trite, obvious, and two-dimensional.

‘5 Flights Up’ Movie Times