Ruth (Diane Keaton - Surrender, Dorothy) and Alex (Morgan Freeman - The Magic of Belle Isle) have lived in the same New York apartment for over 40 years and these days it is not just their dog, Dorothy, who struggles to climb the 5 flights of stairs as Alex is finding it hard work as well. In fact Alex is finding a lot of things hard work from the way their neighbourhood has changed to the fact his portrait art is no longer in fashion. And then there is the news as the whole area is gripped by what may or may not be a terrorist attack when a tanker is abandoned on the bridge. But for Ruth and Alex they have other things going on as their niece, Lily (Cynthia Nixon - Papa's Angels), has persuaded them that they should sell and as a realtor she is determined to get them as much as possible even if Alex is reluctant to move.
I am only in my mid 40s but have found myself becoming a lot more observant about things, especially about modern society where people are glued to their phone screens, holding a coffee cup in the other and are always busy being busy. And it is why I enjoyed "5 Flights Up", which in the UK was called "Ruth & Alex", as this is a movie filled with beautiful observations coming from Alex, whilst there is a subtle layer of unspoken depth which runs beside it.
As such on one hand we have Alex making observations about how the world has changed and the curious nature of how people act these days with Alex having this laid back charm and unhurried approach to life. But whilst this is going on we also get a glimpse at Alex and Ruth's relationship and the issues they have faced over the years, especially in those early days as a mixed race couple. We also see how through some problems how much they have always loved each other, sacrificing where need be for their love for one another. There is a real beauty to all of this especially when you have the richness of Morgan Freeman's voice leading us through their story.
But, and I hate that there is a but, but the whole set up of the dog eat dog, time important house move set up ends up annoying. I know that it provides the vehicle for not just the reminiscing but also observations but it far too often feels forced. It is the same with the whole possible terrorist attack captivating everyone as again it feels too forced even though in a way ends up an important part of how "5 Flights Up" plays out.
What this all boils down to is that "5 Flights Up" is an observational charmer and a movie which I reckon the older you get the more you will appreciate with that slower, observational nature.