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by Gary M. Kramer
April 22, 2014 12:29 PM
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Tribeca Review: How the Anton Yeltchin Drama '5 to 7' Represents the Worst Aspects of the 'Famous Writer' Genre

There is an entire genre of films about a young man yearning to be a famous writer. A blank, unpublished slate at the film's beginning, these mild-turning-bold characters lose their innocence and find a topic — usually heartbreak — discovering themselves by the end credits. Perhaps it's ripe fodder for cinema because people are reading fewer books these days?

"5 to 7" represents the worst scenario of the genre. It opens unpromisingly with the hero, Brian Bloom (Anton Yeltchin) announcing in a precious voice-over that the best writing can be found on the benches of Central Park. The worst writing is in the rejection letters he pins to his walls from magazines to which he has submitted his work. (Apparently, no one in this film communicates via email). Such are the quirky writer-ly details that inform his character.

With no identifiable job, this 24 year-old would-be writer meets Arielle (the stunningly beautiful Bérénice Marlohe), an attractive 33 year-old French woman. They bond over smoking and exchanging twee romantic banter (when she asks him how he fares during a rainstorm, he replies, "damp").

Most viewers will not be enchanted by such dull-not-droll repartee.

Most viewers will not be enchanted by such dull-not-droll repartee, and the talky "5 to 7" is full of such pablum. These bon mots, however, are writer-director Victor Levin's attempts to achieve a kind of Woody Allen-esque charm, and they are used at every opportunity, as when Brian observes, "life is really something sometimes." It's a generic sentiment better suited to a park bench inscription.

Arielle and Brian embark on an extramarital affair at the St. Regis hotel between the hours of (you guessed it) 5 to 7, which is the only period when the married with children Arielle will be available for Brian. This arrangement initially concerns the young writer; he has an ethical quandary about Ariel's open marriage to her husband Valery (Lambert Wilson). But he gets over it in three weeks.

Valery, who also has a young lover, Jane (Olivia Thirlby), an editor at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, is comfortable with Brian seeing his wife. He even invites Brian for a dinner party attended by Julian Bond and maestro Alan Gilbert, among other luminaries. Brian is suitably impressed, and this sequence shows a glimmer of what a witty, sparkling romantic comedy "5 to 7" could have been. It even allows Jane and Brian to bond. Alas, she is mostly relegated to playing Brian's cheerleader in the film.

Unfortunately, most of the film offers scenes of the experienced older French woman telling Brian that he is "a natural lover whose body expresses beautifully what is in his heart." He later tells her he lost his virginity over Passover.

That Brian is Jewish does not go unmentioned. There are a handful of scenes featuring Brian's parents played by those curiously cast uber-Jews Glenn Close and Frank Langella. Both performers do what they can with their limited parts, which consist of making neurotic unfunny comments about money, Arielle, and the cost of parking lots in New York City.

Meanwhile, Brian gets a prestigious literary honor in a cringe-inducing sequence that includes an episode in which an editor of The New Yorker encounters Brian and his awkward parents. It is here that the film enters the realm of pure fantasyland. Book deals and marriage proposals are proffered, but there is never any sense what Arielle possibly sees in Brian, or that he is a talented writer. Instead, there are cutesy, non-romantic scenes consisting of the couple giving each other blind taste tests: She tries to teach him the difference between red and white wine, and hopes she can distinguish between Guinness and Miller beer. The leads' attempts to be ingratiating yield downright embarrassing results.

There are many things wrong and unrealistic about "5 to 7." Levin gilds the lily by setting his silly romantic/coming of age drama to an inappropriately syrupy score. When Brian asserts that "suffering has to be good for something," he sure wasn't talking about how pained audiences will feel watching this film.

Criticwire Grade: D+

HOW WILL IT PLAY? A Tribeca Film Festival world premiere, "5 to 7" is unlikely to travel widely or make much of an impact at the box office, and will likely wind up on VOD platforms with a very limited theatrical release.


  • Andy L | April 29, 2014 9:53 AMReply

    Kudos to the director and writer for having the guts to be unabashedly romantic in an age of cynicism. I thought it was a beautiful film

  • Ben S | April 22, 2014 3:26 PMReply

    Hmm, I've seen this movie and it's awesome. So, one thing is abundantly clear to me from this review -- Gary Kramer, the critic, is clearly a talentless idiot. I feel sorry for him as I'm sure he once aspired to be a real "famous writer" and instead wound up relegated to writing snarky reviews about movies that might have told the story of his life if only he'd actually had a life.

    I really hope that nobody actually listens to this moron. Go see the movie and decide for yourself.

    As for you, Gary, I'll look forward to more crap reviews and continue to relish in the knowledge that nothing you say or think will ever actually matter.

    thanks for being a dick.

  • V. Ricardo | April 24, 2014 11:54 AM

    BenS - I find your remarks an odd way of endorsing a film. You feel it is best to state your opinion more on the critic than the film. As a film criticism is an opinion - one of which you don't have to agree with - you may want to state what swayed you to your exacting and oh so convincing one word review "awesome".

    Speaking of opinions, my opinion is that you are a uneducated bully who did not really understand the review since it was written in full sentences.

  • Chip D | April 23, 2014 6:35 PM

    Hey Ben. If you want to convince people the movie is good why don't you back up your argument with some reasons why. Nobody's going to trust the opinion of some troll who freaks out about a negative review and can't say anything other than the movie is "awesome". Seriously, even if you're the director of '5 to 7', your comments aren't helping its chances. All your personal attacks are doing is giving Indiewire readers a bad name.

  • Dom M | April 22, 2014 6:25 PM

    Hi Ben,
    I saw the world premiere for this last Friday at Tribeca. It was awful.
    I wanted to make sure if I wasn't the only one so I found this review. I agree a lot with Gary, can you believe it?! I wasn't going to comment at all but after reading your take on it, rather, after you trashing Gary thoughts on it, I decided to take his back.
    The onscreen chemistry between the two leads was almost as good as the chemistry between a cardboard box and packing peanuts. The way these two were just saying sentences to each other, I felt like I was at a table read. A line was said then, beat, the other actor said their line. Oooooof.
    Also, this movie was unbearably corny. Gary's right. You're telling me a kid this cultured, who knows the French language like the back of his hand, watches old French films, can't tell the difference between red and white wine? I mean...what?! Same goes for Arielle; you can tell by the foam alone on which is a Guinness and a light beer. But we were supposed to be smitten by these two? Also, I already don't believe Mr. Sportcoat actually goes to a bar like that for wings and a beer.
    This kid couldn't get into ANY publication but all of sudden is herald as a genius at the New Yorker. Also, Glenn Close choosing to stand up because she didn't like the chair, Jane whistling for a cab, "Your daughter is Derek Jeter and your son is Big Papi!," Arielle stopping to notice "The Mermaid" RIGHT after Brian leaves, Brian saying how he described the jeweler Arielle's hand size.... all this made me roll my eyes so much that I'm surprised they didn't pop out.
    This movie was terrible.
    I did enjoy the premise though. I also did enjoy when it was revealed that Arielle was checking Brian out at the very beginning. Other than that, I did not care at all about this movie. Wish it turned out better.
    Sorry Ben S,