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Title: 5 Flights Up

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:

HTS Overall Score:76

Sometimes all it takes to realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence is a bit of chaos. We all do it sometimes. We get so caught up in what we’re TRYING to achieve, or trying to gain an upper hand that we forget that sometimes what we have is enough. Many times MORE than enough. Based upon Jill Clement’s novel “Heroic Measures”, “5 Flights Up” tells this age old story in a more modern guise, following around an aging older couple as they try to move out of their Brooklyn apartment and into one that is more suited to their age. Touching on a variety of themes and subplots, “5 Flights Up” dances around with multiple ideas and lessons, the main one being that sometimes all you need to realize that what you have enough is a simple dose of what you don’t have.

Alex (Morgan Freeman) and Ruth (Diane Keaton) are putting up their Brooklyn apartment for sale for the first time in 40 years of ownership due to their advancing age. Alex and Ruth have loved this apartment for 40 years, but times are changing and Alex wants a place with an elevator so that he doesn’t have to walk up 5 flights of stairs every day, and Ruth is also feeling the urge to move. Alex and Ruth have had some ups and downs, especially with being married in an era where interracial marriages were frowned up at a young age, and Alex being a struggling artist for most of his life. Another setback has been realized in the form of their 10 year old dog being diagnosed with a spinal injury and requiring a $10,000 surgery to restore the pooch to normal. To make matters worse this is the same day that Alex and Ruth decided to have their apartment hit the real estate market (with the help of Ruth’s niece, played by Cynthia Nixon, a real estate broker). Oi very, when it rains it pours.

Getting caught up in the rush of “buy it now!” wheeling and dealing, Alex and Ruth struggle to keep their heads above water in the dog eat dog world of real estate, eyes glazing over as their niece brokers offer vs. counter offer in an effort to get the most for their home. To make matters even WORSE, a young man is loose in the neighborhood accused of terrorism, and the constant news coverage is putting a serious damper on bids, as no one wants to live in an area where a terrorist is on the loose. At least not for full market value. Finding an apartment that suits their needs, Alex and Ruth have their bid accepted, only to start to cool down just a bit and take an assessment of what they’re about to do.

“5 Flights Up” is at heart a simple story. The grass is greener syndrome is something that is not new to mankind in any way shape or form, and affects just about everyone at some time or another. Alex and Ruth are faced with that very same set of decisions in a sweet tale of love and satisfaction. The hum drum basic storyline is really just a jumping point for a myriad of different issues, ranging from satisfaction with your situation, all the way up to satisfaction and love for each and even more powerful, a love story that stays strong from beginning to end. The real estate storyline is simple enough, and even the ending is simple enough. Sometimes all you need to be satisfied with what you have is to get a taste of the very thing you think you’re after. Alex and Ruth realize that their apartment is more than enough for their needs at the moment, and when the times comes they will sell, but for the time being what they have built together in that little plot of New York land is worth more than a quick sell to something more “convenient”. To a place that doesn’t have the love, the memories and the location that they have now. The side stories also add some very nice layers to the picture, adding in an issue with a sick dog, the decision of WHOM to sell to, and a Jihadist terrorist on the loose.

The dog is probably one of the sweetest displays of love between Alex and Ruth and symbolizes their devotion to each other more than any other point in the movie. The dog is just a dog in reality, but at the same time it is more than just a dog. I’m a dog lover and would be devastated if my dog was injured like their little Dorothy, but don’t know if I could spend $10,000 on its recovery. Alex is of the same persuasion, willing to sign a “do not resuscitate” waiver on the dog’s initial vet report if the tests come back negative. While he’s a pragmatist and realizes that 10 year old dog with spinal issues is nothing but a waste of money, he sees what that dog means to Ruth and pulls out all the stops to make sure Dorothy gets the help she needs. Ruth really wants Dorothy to get better and wants to spend the money, but she understands and acquiesces to her husband’s original decision on letting it go, but Alex knows that even though it’s the PRACTICAL thing to do, it wasn’t the most loving thing to do. Whether the dog is worth the money or not is irrelevant here. What’s relevant is how much this dog means to his wife and how much his wife means to him. She’s not nagging, crying or begging him to spend the money, and he would rather make her happy with a few more years with their pet than save a few thousand dollars. It’s probably one of the more touching moments in the film, and as a dog lover had me snuffling like a silly child.

The sale of the apartment was well done, and excellently backed up by inserting flashbacks of Alex and Ruth in their 20s, adapting and changing to the circumstances that brought them together. Each flashback corresponds to a different point in the movie (sometimes not congruent with what’s going on at the moment) and fleshes out the bond they have formed over the years. It’s simple, yet extremely intelligent and cagy at the same time. The only story that I really felt was a bit wasted was the story about the terrorist. It was supposed to serve as a message of love and realization that not everything was as it seems, but it felt awkward and shoehorned in whenever it was brought up. Luckily it wasn’t a major part of the movie, time wise, and can be fairly easily forgotten about.


PG-13 for language and some nude images

Video :4.5stars:
Arriving on Blu-ray disc with a scope 2.39:1 AVC encoded transfer, “5 Flights Up” is a rather excellent transfer. Despite a few soft scenes and some drab New York scenery, the image is largely spectacular with a warm honey colored grading to the picture with bright back lighting and excellent digitally photographed detail. Facial details are incredible, showing off every line and wrinkle on the aging couple’s faces, and the rustic New York apartment setup shows every nick and chip in the 40 year old structure as well as every patina coloring on the brass piping. In the living areas. Blacks are deep and inky, with no sign of any real black crush except for a few instances here and there. Shadow detail is near impeccable and the disc itself is devoid of any digital artifacting or compression issues. EXCELLENT.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track (the ONLY audio choice on the entire disc) is EXACTLY what you would expect. This is a dramedy and as such you have all the pros and cons that come with that type of genre. Dialog is the main focus of the track, with exceptional vocal representation in the center channel and the rest of the soundstage being mainly replicated in the mains. Panning effects and directional queues are done with pinpoint precision and range from the fronts all the way to the rears depending on the situation at hand. The New York City hustle and bustle activates the surround channels and gives a nicely immersive feel for those scenes, while the quieter moments have them fading into the background with limited ambient noises. LFE is ever present and adds a nice bottom end, but it never becomes overly powerful or in your face, rather providing a gentle backdrop for some of the heavier moments.



Overall: :4stars:

I went into “5 Flights Up” expecting another sappy romance that would serve as nothing but a paycheck for two aging actors who have been out of the limelight as leading men/women for quite some time, but ended up being REALLY entertained by the story. It’s heartwarming and extremely relevant in just about any point in our society and is one that I have no problems recommending for those of you who like dramedys (especially ones that aren’t steeped in hipster angst like many I’ve been seeing recently). The audio and the video are both above reproach and the only weak link in the entire package is the exclusion of ANY extras. Recommended

Additional Information:

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton, Cynthia Nixon
Directed by: Richard Loncraine
Written by: Jill Ciment (Novel), Charlie Peters (Screenplay)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 93 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 7th 2015

Buy 5 Flights Up On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Decent Rental

More about Mike

146 Posts
I read the plot on another site for this movie and decided to not put it in my cue. I didn't know about the dog issue or terrorist. I can tell you as a dog/pet lover we've spent @$6,000 on one of our 6 dogs. It didn't look good but I believed he'd pull through and he did. He's on insulin and strict diet now and not happy about it but he's in much better health and it was money well spent. To me a four legged friend is just like a two legged kind: you do what you can for them and they love you unconditionally. Thank you for a great review!
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