The Manic Pixie Dream Girl label has become a tired, overused trope in a tired, overused genre in which a one-dimensional female character exists solely to help a lost young man shake up his life and reach full potential. (What about her happiness? Who cares?) Think Elizabethtown, Garden State, or 500 Days of Summer. In 5 to 7, our Lost Boy is Brian (Anton Yelchin), an unpublished 24-year-old writer who papers the walls of his nice Manhattan apartment with rejection letters, completely unaware of his privilege. (Brooklyn we could maybe believe.) He soon meets Arielle (Berenice Marlohe), a beautiful 33-year-old Parisian, and is instantly infatuated with this Manic Pixie Dream Woman. The two begin a flirtation intended to be cute and charming, but which comes off as flat and contrived.
Arielle tells Brian that she’s got a husband and two children, but maintains an open marriage between the hours of 5 and 7 p.m. every weekday. And of course she’s the one who initiates the affair, after Brian hesitates for just one honorable nanosecond. 5 to 7 is pure male fantasy, predicated on familiar types. Arielle is one of those effortlessly beautiful Frenchwomen, and Brian will be inspired by her muse. Sample voiceover: “She made me a writer. She made me a man.” Excuse me while I go vomit.
Director Victor Levin, a producer on Mad Men and a veteran TV writer, doesn’t seem to agree with film’s “Show, don’t tell” rule. 5 to 7 ’s dialogue is clunky and copious. Coupled with static camera work, the film is trying to be Gilmore Girls trying to be a Woody Allen movie. I had high hopes for Yelchin after his stellar performance in the indie romance Like Crazy. Unfortunately, he and Marlohe—while both very attractive—have no chemistry. But, as Brian says, “Progress is not linear.”
5 TO 7 Opens Fri., April 17 at Sundance Cinemas. Not rated. 97 minutes.