Real Estate Ruins Lives (Movie Thoughts: 5 Flights Up)

poster212x312The New York Real Estate market can really ruin people’s lives. We saw it on film last year in Ira Sach’s fine “Love Is Strange,” and we are seeing it again in Richard Locraine’s “5 Flights Up.” (The film was released in Europe with the title ‘Ruth and Alex.’  Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman play a married couple who have been living at their Brooklyn apartment for 40 years. They bought it for $5000 then and now it’s worth a cool million. They have lived a nice comfortable life there, but it’s a walk up and Freeman’s character is now having a harder time navigating the stairs. (Even their adorable dog, Dorothy, is having a hard time) So, they use a real estate broker, played excellently by Cynthia Nixon, who is your typical real estate agent shark (Think any of the brokers in ‘Million Dollar Listings’) and in a course of a weekend plays them and the potential buyers like a fiddle. And that’s it – that’s the movie. But we also get master class acting from both Keaton and Freeman, who have cozy chemistry that you do not doubt for a second that they are that couple. I liked the movie for them, and even Keaton’s usual mannered manic ticks are toned down. Freeman, as that wise older man is perfection. Having lived in NYC for years, I instantly know people who are just exactly like him.  As a matter of fact, performances are fine all around: Nixon is  broker greed personified, and even cameos by Jackie Hoffman and Miriam Shor were memorable.  (You will see familiar faces all throughout the film) This for me is one of those small movies that take me a back to a time and place, even if it is set in the present, or maybe it reminds me of a particular time and place in my life. Either way, this was a movie that made me think, and ponder.

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