Ruth And Alex, played by Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman, are about to sell up and move away, having spent almost all of their married lives in the same Brooklyn apartment for more than 40 years.
Given how people become more stuck in their ways the older they get, and how everything is just how they want it, you have to ask what the point is of them moving out, especially when they haven’t even looked at new houses or flats to buy while thinking of selling up. You also sense that they really don’t want to go elsewhere when they periodically stare into the middle distance while a flashback reminds them of one of a number of happy times in their apartment.
As such, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what the outcome will be, but then anyone can see that for a film like this, it’s less about the destination and more the journey.
Amongst all this, there’s a side-plot about how their canine occupant Dorothy is unwell, which requires sending the ten-year-old dog into a CAT scanner (yes, dogs and CATs), and which seems an expense too far, as does spending $10,000 on its operation, but what else are they going to do? Well, let me tell them about a wonderful place called ‘Doggy heaven’, as Homer Simpson would say.
In the US, this was released as 5 Flights Up, since that’s how many floors their flat is up. And with no lift, it’s not something the 78-year-old male lead would fancy doing on a regular basis.
Ruth and Alex is a pleasant way of spending 90 minutes, but a far from challenging one. But then that’s not what it’s all about. With films like this and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, plus its sequel, studios are tapping into a burgeoning market for films which appeal to the older demographic. It’s worth a fortune, and when you tie in a simple story with big names, it’s a potential goldmine.
This film puts me off ever wanting to sell my house, but then I bought mine almost 17 years ago, I have around 9 years left to go on the mortgage, and I have no thoughts to sell it whatsoever. Once reason not to sell is that you have to put up with idiots coming round and making rude comments about how it looks in the state to which you’ve become accustomed. I did get one belly laugh when an ignorant woman is scanning Alex’s art studio for remodelling opportunities and asks him, “This wall. What does this wall do?” He replies sarcastically, “Hold up the ceiling, maybe(?)”
It’s also one of those films which is a 12-certificate for no real reason. Well, logistically it’s there because of a single f-word being spoken. Often, unless it’s a CGI kids film, a PG-rated film means box-office death in the US, so they’ll throw in a pointless f-word to make it a PG-13 (similar to a 12-cert in the UK). When this film eventually gets shown on daytime TV over and over, they’ll have reshot that scene so the character says something more PG-worthy and you’ll miss nothing from losing that f-word, especially as it seems a bit unnecessary.
Ruth and Alex is out in cinemas this Friday, and available to pre-order on DVD, ahead of its release on September 28th, and click on the poster for the full-size image.
Running time: 92 minutes
Studio: Signature Entertainment
Released: July 24th 2015
Director: Richard Loncraine
Producers: Curtis Burch, Morgan Freeman, Lori McCreary, Tracy Mercer and Charlie Peters
Screenplay: Charlie Peters (based on the novel “Heroic Measures” by Jill Ciment)
Music: David Newman
Alex Carver: Morgan Freeman
Ruth Carver: Diane Keaton
Lily: Cynthia Nixon
Young Ruth: Claire van der Boom
Young Alex: Korey Jackson
Blue Leggings: Alysia Reiner
Miriam Carswell: Carrie Preston
Cool Lady: Miriam Shor
Zoe: Sterling Jerins
Jackson: Josh Pais
Friendly Lady: Maddie Corman
Boy’s Mother: Joanna Adler
Debbie: Hannah Dunne
Mrs Vincent: Liza J Bennett
Lady with Dog: Katrina E Perkins
Dr Kramer: Maury Ginsberg
Mr Schuyler: Eric Sheffer Stevens
Mrs Schuyler: Hani Furstenberg
Pedestrian: Candice Cook
Cab Driver: Jimmy Palumbo
Erica: Grace Rex
Woman in boots: Ilana Levine
Uncle: Jack Dimich
Chihuahua Lady: Anjili Pal
‘Tomatoes’ Woman: Violet Krumbein
Young Wife: Alanna Blair
Russian Man #1: Euguen Leon
Russian Man #2: Pasha Pellosie
Mr Vincent: Gary Wilmes
Field Reporter #2: Nadia Gan
Justin: Henry Kelemen
Himself: Logan Crawford
Pedestrian: Casey Roberts
New York News Anchor: Richard Saxton
Newscaster Julie: Jane Fergus
Mr Rahim: Ted Sod
May: Diane Ciesla
Upscale Patron: Gregg Micheals
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.