By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With film actors as dependable and effortlessly appealing as Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton, we know we’re in good hands.

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Oh, sure, we’re impressed with their combined nine Oscar nominations and an Oscar each (hers for Annie Hall, his for Million Dollar Baby).

But with well over a hundred movie roles between them, what they routinely offer is the movie equivalent of comfort food.

So, pairing them as the headliners creates an invitation to relax and follow them on whatever journey they’re embarking upon, even if they’re hardly going anywhere at all.

 

(2½ stars out of 4)

(2½ stars out of 4)

 

The comedy-drama 5 Flights Up stars Keaton and Freeman as Ruth and Alex Carver, a mature, childless married couple -– he’s a painter, she’s a retired teacher — trying to sell their Brooklyn apartment, a fifth-floor walkup in Williamsburg.

An aggressively gabby realtor niece, played by Cynthia Nixon, is helping them show the apartment and field offers while she entertains thoughts of a healthy commission and they think back and compare notes about the happy life they’ve lived here and whether they really want to relocate, after forty years, to the Upper East Side in Manhattan.

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Meanwhile, two subplots unfold:  their cherished elderly dog, a Border terrier, suddenly needs expensive surgery, and broadcast news about a dangerous terrorist on the local loose is creating a near-panic.

Previously titled “Life Itself” and then “Ruth and Alex,” 5 Flights Up is directed by veteran Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon, Firewall, Richard III, My One and Only, The Missionary) in an appropriately leisurely fashion, with little in the way of surprise or pumped-up countdown suspense.

But that turns out to account for a large part of the film’s quiet charm, with its intelligent screenplay by co-producer Charlie Peters based on a novel, Heroic Measures, by Jill Ciment.

In a summer to be dominated by loud, explosive, hyperkinetic, comic book-inspired thrillers, think of this as smartly and refreshingly subdued counterprogramming.

And spending an hour and a half in the affable company of these two naturals, representing a generation and an underserved audience that the movie industry tends to ignore, especially in the summer, continues to be a modest pleasure.

So we’ll walk up 2½ stars out of 4.  Aiming to entertain but not trying to set the world on fire, 5 Flights Up gets one thumb up.

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