5 Flights Up Review – Truthful, Realistic, Genuinely New York

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5 Flights Up, from Revelations Entertainment and Focus World, presents a genuine New York classic, filled with unique characters, honest dialogue, candid presentation of topics generally left dormant, ageism in a youth culture, and the tumultuous Manhattan real estate markets.

Directed by Richard Loncraine, 5 Flights Up stars Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton, Cynthia Nixon, Claire Van Der Boom, Kory Jackson and Carrie Preston. Based on the novel, Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment, 5 Flights Up was written for the screen by Charlie Peters.

5 Flights Up begins on a cold winter Brooklyn morning, with Morgan Freeman in voice over, walking through his reemerging neighborhood, witnessing once again the transformation as new developers design monuments to themselves with the belief that glass houses are the wave of the future. A bohemian, he gently walks his dog, stopping for his morning coffee, newspaper, greeting the neighborhood shop keepers as he and they smile, pausing as a new day in paradise rolls out.

The din of Manhattan becomes the third lead opposite Freeman and Keaton who play Alex and Ruth, an older couple, a fixture in their Brooklyn neighborhood.

Married for nearly four decades, 5 Flights Up provides flashbacks, with Claire Van Der Boom and Kory Jackson playing the younger Ruth and Alex, into how they met, their early lives, when racism was openly worn and spoken and when the future for Alex, once a gallery sensation held the beginnings of an acclaimed and promising career.

With Freeman in voice over in several areas of the film, explanation of his life and inner thoughts are presented, the memories of Ruth and Alex as a young couple in the turbulent 70's is also intermittently played out. We see flashbacks of Ruth's mother displaying her disapproval, of Alex's career highlights, of life unfolding, raveling at the seams and being sewn back together.

Brooklyn and Ruth and Alex changed over the course of their lives. Her parents, it seems, came around, as Cynthia Nixon joins the cast as her niece, Lily, a high strung, consummate New York real estate agent.

After the couple's pet is sidelined with a life threatening injury, the two make the decision that it may be time to sell the only home they have ever known. A decision simply made, without thought, they realize real estate prices have skyrocketed and their minor investment forty years ago can net quite a handsome price and alas had they had this idea one year ago, before real estate prices fell, handsome could have been stunning.

So deciding to sell, the three, Alex, Ruth and Lily (Cynthia Nixon) begin to test the real estate water, as the apartment with a view of Manhattan has serious potential in this seller's market.

An open house, which ushers in the shark world of house hunting in Manhattan, and becomes a strong back story. Open house groupies, pretentious realtors, and the outrageous and common place property prices which is a character of its own and well played throughout as a host of eccentric and diverse New York couples move across the screen in hopes of securing their palace in paradise.

Carrie Preston joins the cast in an uncredited role as a snarky, pretentious, real estate agent who steals the scene with her flamboyant red hair and serious attitude.  

5 Flights Up is driven by strong New York characters from Keaton and Freeman, who project a genuine comfort of a couple growing old together, to both rocket fueled real estate agents, to the parade of potential buyers, to the city that never sleeps and won't let anyone else either and features New York, a sweet melody or disturbing cacophony, in all its modern glory.

5 Flights Up holds the attention, especially as the real estate offers begin to pour in, it is like an auction of sorts with each person not knowing what the other is bidding. Compassion letters pulling the heart strings of the sellers, manipulating the buyers into believing they should make, to quote Marlon Brando in The Godfather, "An offer they can't refuse." It sounds as if the next line from the movie of the same name should follow any potential buyer in Manhattan's real estate market.

And 5 Flights Up is entertaining with enough happening from several back stories, typical of Manhattan, that the interest is held. I enjoyed it. It was truthful, realistic and genuinely New York.

5 Flights Up is well done, a believable comedy, drama.

5 Flights Up opens Friday, May 8, 2015. Check local listings.

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