Writer-director Victor Levin's new film 5 to 7 begins with a series of shots of the inscriptions on the park benches in New York City.
"Read the benches and you realize enormous things happen in every life," says Brian (Anton Yelchin), the film's central character and narrator. It's a clever framing device for the film, a romantic comedy with indie sensibilities. The movie opens on Friday at the Cedar Lee Theatre.
A struggling 24-year-old writer who plasters his rejection letters on a wall in his apartment, Brian meets 33-year-old Arielle (Skyfall Bond girl Bérénice Marlohe) one afternoon on the streets of New York and instantly falls for her. The problem is, she's married with kids and can only meet between the hours of 5 and 7. It's an arrangement she has with her husband (Lambert Wilson), who also limits his affair with publishing assistant Jane (Olivia Thirlby) to that time frame.
Initially, Brian tells her he can't see her for ethical reasons. But Arielle is so beautiful and glamorous, he can't resist her and it's not long before they begin meeting up at hotel rooms to get it on. When she tells him that he's a "natural lover," he becomes completely smitten.
Brian eventually meets Arielle's husband and kids and introduces Arielle to his parents (Frank Langella and Glenn Close). His father doesn't like the fact that Arielle is married, but his mother is more accepting. Arielle works to make Brian part of her life, inviting him to dinner and attending a reception at which he receives an award for his writing. But she adheres to the rules — she will only see him between 5 and 7 p.m. and she won't kiss him in public (though she does hold his arm while they walk).
Predictably enough, Brian tries to take the relationship to another level and becomes frustrated with the parameters that Arielle has set, creating the conflict that's telegraphed from the movie's start.
The movie's ultimately a little too clever for its own good: Characters says things such as "life is a collection of moments" and "the future has a way of arriving whether you want it to or not." And Yelchin's charm runs out pretty quickly. But it makes for a pleasant-enough distraction and deserves credit for putting a spin on the rom-com formula. — Jeff Niesel