5 Flights Up ***1/2

by Andrew Hudak

Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton play an aging couple in this touching drama

Is it worth $10? Yes

Real Estate is tricky in New York City. Just ask Alex and Ruth Carver (Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton) in “5 Flights Up.” After forty years of living in the fifth floor apartment of their Brooklyn walk up, they decide it’s time to sell and find a place with an elevator. After all, the twilight of their years is swiftly approaching, and they can’t climb those stairs like they used to. Neither can their dog, who is almost as old as they are if you count in dog years.

Luckily Ruth’s niece Lily (Cynthia Nixon) knows the market and is an ambitious and energetic go-getter. She knows how to hustle and make the right moves to sell her aunt and uncle’s place for the highest price possible.

The parade of would be buyers at the Carvers’ open house is a who’s who cornucopia of all of the types of crazy, picky, needy, and obnoxious people that one can possibly get. Sure, these types exist anywhere, but there is something about them being from New York that is so typical, yet so endearing. It helps to have a sense of humor when a woman blabbering on a cell phone stops to ask what the wall is for. I particularly enjoyed the way the prospective buyers were not usually referred to by name. Instead, they received labels like “matching sweaters,” “dog ladies,” and “blue leggings.”

Adding to the stress of dealing with people and selling their apartment, the Carvers also have to deal with their dog’s surgery for a ruptured disc. Their concern for the dog is genuine and heartfelt. Not only do they clearly love and care for the pooch an immense amount, it’s also possible that they see themselves in the dog’s issues. What if it was one of them who had the ruptured disc, or was in serious need of medical attention? Would they want to be let to suffer or put down because it cost too much? From the get go, Ruth makes it clear that she will do anything to make that dog better. Alex signs a DNR (do-not-resuscitate) order. While never explicitly stated, I think he comes around when he realizes that his wife is wondering if he would sign DNR paperwork on her too.

Sprinkled throughout “5 Flights Up” are snippets of Alex and Ruth’s early years as an interracial couple. The going wasn’t easy, but through the portrayals of young Alex and Ruth by Korey Jackson and Claire van der Boom, we see true love, and we get the sense that they knew that as long as they stuck together, they could weather any storm.

Weather they did, as the present day portrayals of Alex and Ruth by Freeman and Keaton are just as strong. The love, respect, and admiration these two share for each other shines through. We would all be so lucky to feel that way about someone after living with them in the same apartment for forty years. Not to mention climbing all those stairs.

Andrew Hudak is a lifelong film lover. His column on Blu-Ray new releases appears every Tuesday. He lives in Connecticut.

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