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.
"What is that?"
"It smells like a whore house!"
As you get older, you have to accept that the things around you will change just as much as you will. The neighborhood changes, your neighbors may come and go, and you may even find yourself feeling stagnate and desperate for a change yourself. Whether that includes a lifestyle change or a new location, shaking things up every now and again is a good way to appreciate the things you have in life. '5 Flights Up,' is the kind of nice innocuous entertainment that has a solid cast with a little bit of a message at the end. It's not challenging, it's just nice to watch.
Alex Carver (Morgan Freeman) and his wife Ruth (Diane Keaton) have been living in the same Brooklyn apartment for over thirty years. He's a successful artist and she's a retired teacher. They bought the property when the neighborhood was a little rougher and society wasn't as friendly towards interracial marriages. Time has a nice way of moving forward. As the Carvers have become mainstays in the community and the neighborhood has gentrified, the value of the home has skyrocketed north of a million bucks. Their ambitious realtor niece (Cynthia Nixon) has been whispering in their ears that now is the best time to sell and move to a new area - and possibly a building with an elevator.
An elevator would probably be a good idea since Alex's knees are giving him trouble and their aging dog just had a disc burst in its spine. While Alex and Ruth try to figure out what to do with their sick dog, they're also trying to get their home ready for a swarm of people to view the open house. Like locusts the yuppies swarm in, pick apart the Carver's lifestyle, state what they would do to make it better, and move on. Some make an offer, some are there just to look.
At the same time the Carvers are trying to sell their home, they're going to need to find a new place to stay - which is easier said than done in New York City. As they talk about the things they want most in their life and what they need to have, they begin to learn that everything they need they already have with each other. Knowing they have what they need makes the decision to move and where to move even harder.
'5 Flights Up' is just the kind of unchallenging filmmaking that's nice to sit down to every now and again. Director Richard Loncraine makes the most he can with the somewhat shallow script by Charlie Peters that is based on the novel by Jill Ciment. The story just doesn't have a lot of meat on the bones, so to speak. Pretty much from the get go you have a solid idea of what is going to happen and the film doesn't even try to hide its intentions - and probably for the better. It knows what it is and is therefore content to let Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton do what they've done best for over thirty years. If there is a part of the movie that just feels a bit ham-handed and undercooked it's the running "terrorist" manhunt and the media hoopla that follows it. It's pretty apparent why its there and the message it serves in the end - it just doesn't need to be there since it doesn't work as anything more than a plot device to make selling a home and therefor looking at a new one all the more dramatic than it already was.
'5 Flights Up' is a hard movie to review in-depth because there really just isn't much to it. It's dramatically satisfying and it plays to its target audience nicely - even if it is entirely predictable. But that's okay. The predictability of the movie is part of the reason why it works so well. For me I empathize with the Carvers as my wife and I are in the process of purchasing our first home so '5 Flights Up' provided a little bit of cathartic release. At a swift 93 minutes the movie proves to be a nice entertaining distraction for a decent night of entertainment. Is it for everyone? Probably not. The people that this kind of movie would naturally appeal to should find it entertaining enough. Those who aren't already interested would be hard pressed to find much value in the experience. Just the same - it's always nice to see two great actors do their thing.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'5 Flights Up' arrives on Blu-ray from Universal Pictures and is pressed on a BD50 disc. The disc comes in a standard echo Blu-ray case with slip cover and HD Ultraviolet Digital Copy code. The disc opens to trailers for 'A Little Chaos' and 'My Old Lady' before arriving to the main menu.
'5 Flights Up' gets some solid marks with this 1080p 2.40:1 transfer. Detail is nice and strong and comes through with fantastic clarity. Alex's art studio is the real star of this presentation as it offers a lot of color, textures and patterning to appreciate. Most of the film has a nice summer-like golden tone throughout that makes the image look and feel warm and cosy. Color replication is strong and offers plenty of primary vibrancy while letting the golden color pallet have its place. Black levels and shadows are solid all around if not entirely dynamic. Most of the film is brightly lit so there isn't much in the way of crush. All around a fine transfer that gets the job done. Since only 27 of 50 gigs were used on this disc and there aren't any extra features, I can't help but wonder how much better this movie could look if it'd been given the full disc space to work with?
'5 Flights Up' gets a decent DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix to enjoy. As the film is largely dialogue fronted, most of the film keeps to the center channels. When the Carvers go to see a house or have people come to their apartment and the place is buzzing with noisy people the mix gets a lot more action and the surround channels get a lot more work. Otherwise things keep the front. Imaging is halfway decent, but again, because this movie is do dialogue heavy there isn't much in the way of channel movement. All around it's a serviceable track that gets the job done.
No special features content present.
'5 Flights Up' is probably best viewed as a good night of easy-access entertainment. It doesn't blow your hair back, but it doesn't try to be anything more than what it is. It's a nice story about two people who rediscover what they love about each other and the life they have while searching for a new home. The picture and audio quality are just fine and get the job done. Without any extras I can really only call this one as being worth a rental. People who are fans should be pleased but those looking for more challenging entertainment may not find what they're after here.