“In New York, you’re never more than ten feet from someone you know, or someone you’re meant to know.” -Brian Bloom
Brian Bloom (Anton Yelchin) is a struggling novelist, whose parents are constantly, albeit gently, reminding him that it’s not too late to go to law school. The 24-year-old is a gifted writer but being young and having had a relatively pleasant, uneventful life thus far, he doesn’t have anything truly meaningful to write about. A writer can only write what they know, and he hasn’t known much.
Enter Arielle (Bérénice Marlohe). When Brian sees her on the streets of New York City, he has to meet her, and when he does, he is completely charmed with her, a feeling which is mutual. Arielle is beautiful, poised, and nine years his senior, but none of this deters him, and the two arrange to meet up for a date soon. Once on the date, Brian learns that 5 to 7 isn’t the very limited time which she has to spend with him. Rather, 5 to 7 is a euphemism for Arielle’s open marriage.
Arielle is happily married and the mother of two children, and she and her husband, Valery (Lambert Wilson), routinely take lovers, while adhering to a very specific set of rules. They do not make public displays of affection with their lovers, their spouse always knows of lovers or potential lovers, and no matter what, Arielle and Valery will never leave one another.
At first, Brian is turned off my the idea of what he sees as sharing Arielle, and is incredibly judgmental of the way that she and her husband have chosen to live. But soon, the undeniable lust, and affection, between them leads to a surprisingly poignant, fruitful romance. Brian meets Valery and Arielle’s children, who embrace him as family, and even Valery’s mistress, Jane (Olivia Thirlby). Eventually, Arielle meets Brian’s parents (Frank Langella and Glenn Close) as well, and while they agree that the situation isn’t ideal, neither can deny how happy Arielle makes their son.
Brian is inspired by love, writing more quality material than he ever has, and when that love later inspires him to break the rules, to reach out for something more, he ultimately gets that crucial life experience necessary to write something of true substance.
In 5 to 7, we see a different sort of arrangement. Certainly not as tidy and uncomplicated as monogamous relationships, but definitely with more depth, more layers, with the possibility of finding more than one soul mate. As Arielle and Brian navigate this unexpected love, we see how much love can change a person, but that changing societal expectations is infinitely harder.
Though many would look at Arielle and Valery’s marriage as one devoid of morals, without standards, it is truly quite the opposite, and the way that they interact with one other is one of the more beautiful aspects of the film. Divorced from the novelty and lust that she shares with Brian, in her marriage, we see a mutual affection, deep respect, effortless communication, and sometimes uncomfortable honesty.
Set in modern times, 5 to 7 is a timeless romance that never feels dated, cliche, or forced. Love is never a straight line, and as 5 to 7 unravels the tangled relationships of this moving romance, we see that there are many different ways to love, all of them valid.
I give this one 5 stars.