Director Richard Loncraine’s “5 Flights Up,” based on Jill Ciment’s novel, starring acting treasures Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman, is a simple, finely tuned, undemanding and gently humourous dramedy about love, marriage and growing old.
Happily married for forty years, struggling artist Alex (Freeman) and his wife, retired teacher Ruth (Keaton), have been living in the same Brooklyn apartment for decades. Sadly, with their age, they have grown too frail to cope with the building’s flight of stairs. With the neighborhood property values soaring, the couple decides to sell their apartment for something a little more manageable. Ruth enlists the help of a real estate agent and begins hunting for a new apartment for them to call home.
There is a subplot about their lovable dog Dorothy who falls ill and has to undergo emergency spinal surgery, but mostly 5 Flights Up is about marriage. It’s about what real life love looks like and how it endures real-life situations (including racial discrimination and infertility).
The story intercuts between Alex and Ruth in the present and the past, but it’s really Freeman and Keaton who anchor the story. The gentle message at the heart of 5 Flights Up is that money can’t replace memories. It’s perfect for those looking for a charming film on a slow Sunday afternoon. For everyone else, 5 Flights Up might come across as average.