A fledgling writer in upscale Manhattan begins an affair with a beautiful married Frenchwoman, who assumes that her new lover knows "the rules." (Rated R for violence, language, brief nudity)
Not charmless, perhaps, but tres absurde.
Anton Yelchin, Berenice Marlohe, Olivia Thirlby
Some movie romances are fairy tales; others are more like science fiction. In director Victor Levin's "5 to 7," the alien society having its way with the normal earthlings are the French, who, in addition to eating snails, have rules about adultery. Who knew?
Certainly not Brian Bloom (Anton Yelchin), an aspiring writer living in a Manhattan apartment wallpapered with rejection letters, but with no social life to speak of. One day, he crosses the street and picks up Arielle, the most beautiful woman (Bond girl Berenice Marlohe) ever left smoking by herself outside the St. Regis Hotel.
The ease with which this happens is nothing short of astounding. Less so is Brian's obtuseness when Arielle tells him she can see him any day between 5 and 7 p.m., which should be his cue that she's married with children, but is open to an affair. Brian is getting an education, and so is the viewer -- at least in the extremes to a writer-director will go to torture a narrative into place.
There's an aroma of decadence and privilege to "5 to 7." Arielle and her diplomat husband, Valery (Lambert Wilson), are so civilized that Valery invites Brian to dinner at their home. There he meets Julian Bond, chef Daniel Boulud and the New York Philharmonic's Alan Gilbert (as themselves), as well as the charming book editor Jane (Olivia Thirlby), who's sleeping with Valery. The "rules" for the French allow for an acknowledgment of one's adulterous affairs, as long as matters don't go too far -- which, naturally, is where they're headed. One tipoff is Brian's introduction of Arielle to his well-to-do parents (Frank Langella and Glenn Close), who are, shall we say, shocked to learn that their son's lunch date is the married mother of two.
"5 to 7" includes some decent acting by Yelchin; by the effervescent Thirlby, and even by Marlohe, though she enters every scene like it's the runway at a fashion show. The flaw is that Levin, in an effort to appease an American sensibility, has taken sophisticated subject matter and made a movie for children.