5 to 7 is the breathtakingly beautiful debut film from writer/director Victor Levin. In an unconventional love story, Levin manages to weave a narrative that is both powerfully touching and perhaps most importantly, unequivocally human.
Set in the metropolitan city of NY, aspiring writer Brian Bloom (Anton Yelchin) faces disappointment after disappointment in the form of rejection letters. However, one day through New York City changes his life forever. Standing smoking a cigarette outside her hotel on an ordinary NYC sidewalk, stands the anything but ordinary Arielle (Berenice Marlohe). The beautiful French woman captivates Brian from the off, but what at first may seem the stereotypical set up for a film of this theme, there is a slight hitch. She's married, has two children and her husband is a very prominent diplomat.
In what could have been a story in danger of being swallowed up and lost within the saturated genre, Victor Levin plays with the generic format to portray a much more powerful and realistic romance. This romance comes in the form of the Parisian concept 'cinq à sept' (5 to 7), the hours after work when a gentlemen is returning home and his whereabouts may not be called into question. Arielle and her husband have adopted this type of open relationship, both having extramarital relationships within these hours. It is this clash of cultures, that plays a prominent role within the film. Firmly summed up in one scene, Brian and Arielle, at a party, cheers and hold eye contact while they drink. The reason being due to superstition; Americans feel that if you do not do so then you will have 7 years bad luck. The French on the other hand, 7 years bad sex.
The on screen chemistry plays a vital role in this film. Coming off the back of such franchises like James Bond and Star Trek, Marlohe nor Yelchin are strangers to our screens. In this intimate film, they never set a step wrong and the ability to portray this affair as an endearing romance, is an absolute testament to both actors. Levin's script is also important in employing the point of view of Brian, and using his inner turmoil at the idea of a relationship that goes against his morals as a tool that will mirror the target demographics perception as well. Victor Levin is also careful in not turning the older, elegant Arielle into a mere fantasy or object of sexual desire. Their relationship is something much deeper, as we see how proud Arielle is when Brian is at last published.
Shot in widescreen, the film is edited perfectly to attain long shots without sacrificing the intimate feel. The score is elegant, yet subtle and perfectly compliments the overall French tone to the film. This is hardly surprising, as Victor Levin grew up inspired by early European film.
In this film, Victor Levin forces us to look at the powerful force of human love in a totally new way. Something that is perfect may not be forever, but that makes it no less special. Culture clashes can be bonding experiences, and Levin reminds us that there is always a silver lining with life. In true fashion, the denouement is poignant and powerful in all its subtleties.
Director: Victor Levin
Runtime: 97 minutes
Cast: Anton Yelchin, Berenice Marlohe, Lambert Wilson, Olivia Thirlby, Frank Langella, Glenn Close.