Most people who know me won’t consider me a romantic type of guy. But I’m a closet hopeless romantic.
Hopeless romantics are hopeless for a reason. We are more absorbed in the idea of love and the person than the reality. This works well during the initial courtship and the early relationship stages, the “honeymoon phase”. But when the flaws and challenges start to appear, we melt away like a snowflake.
I’ve dated my fair share of people like that. Some of them just ended the relationship without good reason and to this day I will never find out why. I can just assume they were enamored with my initial character but once my deeper flaws appeared they ran. I’m guilty of this myself.
Even with this admission, you won’t catch me watching romcoms and the like. They are just so silly, immature, and as fake as a pornstar’s tits.
But something about 5 to 7, starring the late Anton Yelchin and Berenice Marlohe, spoke to me and it’s easily my favourite romance. Not only was this movie endearing, but it managed to do the rare thing of making you fall in love with its ideals while reminding you of how trying true love can get.
5 to 7: A Love Affair With A Bittersweet Lesson
Brian Bloom, played by the late Anton Yelchin is a young aspiring novelist in New York City who meets Arielle (Berenice Marlohe), an older French woman.
They begin dating during the specific times of five o’clock to seven o’clock because it’s the only time Arielle is available.
Arielle is married, and Brian is taken back. But he is even more surprised when Arielle’s husband, Valery (Lambert Wilson) is aware of this affair and allows it. Like most western men, Brian is uneasy about this but after an all-too splendid dinner date with the couple and their family, he is acquainted to the rules.
It turns out, even Valery is having an affair with Jane (Olivia Thirlby), who is also much
younger than him and an American, like Brian.
This is a turning point to Brian’s life as he soon meets Jane’s boss, Jonathan (Eric Stoltz) who agrees to publish a novel for Brian after having read his earlier work.
Everything is going great. Brian has everything a writer could need: a beautiful muse, a publisher, and the love of his life. Except this wasn’t enough for Brian.
He breaks the rules.
Brian asks for Arielle’s hand in marriage. Shocked, Arielle accepts. And despite everyone’s disapproval including Jane’s, Brian’s parent’s, and of course, Valery’s himself, they go through with it.
But at the last moment, Arielle instead ends her relationship with Brian and reaffirms her marriage with Valery choosing to honour her commitment.
Heartbroken, Brian becomes forlorn and later finds out through Jane that Valery also ended his relationship with her.
Inspired by his breakup, Brian writes and publishes his first novel, “The Mermaid”.
Years pass. and the two cross paths again. Brian, now a successful author, is married with a child and Arielle is still with Valery.
Just as the film ends, Arielle secretly shows Brian that she is wearing the ring he gave her when he proposed.
Reviewing 5 to 7: Beautifully Flawed, Sentimentally Delivered
It’s one of those films that I would put on my all-time favourite lists but not on the “all-time greatest”. I can’t recommend this movie to everyone. But if you want to trigger me, just take a dump on the movie. I hold this movie close to my heart.
But right from the start, you can tell the film was inspired by true events and written by an idealistic person. The characters, the premise, and the themes are something most movie watchers may fantasize about but won’t be able to relate.
It works seamlessly as a wish fulfillment in most cases but as a movie that talks about the harsh realities of romance and affairs, it’s a bit childish. But you can’t separate this quality from an idyllic film.
Much like hopeless romanticism, the film plays through rose-shaded lens with a magnetic chemistry between the two leads, witty dialogue that aspiring writers like myself should take note of, and charming performances from the entire cast.
Even when the film attempts to deliver a heartbreaking moral lesson, it does so in romantic fashion and is sure to tug at your heartstrings unless you’re a skeptic or a monster (sometimes I confuse the two).
It is as inspiring as it is heartbreaking.
In what would be the most pragmatic aspect of the film, it comes to terms with the reality that two people, no matter how much they love each other, will not end up together.
In bittersweet fashion, they were able to enjoy their relationship it in its purity. It never got the chance to grow and mature and really test them.
But their love stayed pure and will live with them for the rest of their lives, never to be adulterated, depreciated, or destroyed.
What Hollywood and Hopeless Romantics Get Wrong
The poignant conclusion makes the film stand out because it manages to capture the feeling of a “Hollywood ending” without degenerating into the usual tropes.
As an older millennial, most of the mainstream stories focus on a happy ending: the guy and the girl fall in love and live happily ever after. People are tired of it and don’t believe in it anymore.
We now live in an era of skepticism where both older and younger millennials are having more difficult times finding or maintaining a long-lasting relationship.
Hollywood and the media has given us this idea that the best part about love is the falling in love phase. It’s about the thrill. Could this be why there are so many instances of people being so good at starting relationships but so bad at keeping them?
Hopeless romanticism isn’t about love but about falling in love. It’s about the thrill and the chase.
This movie is more Hollywood in this sense because it preserves the romantic feelings of starting a new love interest and gives an idea that in some cultures like the French relationship represented her, you can maintain a stable long-term relationship while reliving the ecstasies of falling in love all over again.
But the more mature aspect of the film shows that despite Arielle’s intense new feelings for Brian, she sacrifices it to rededicate herself to her husband. This is the love aspect ultimately “winning” over the falling in love part.
It’s what sets apart the hopeless romantics from those who have successfully propagated a long-term relationship. The formers are focused on falling in love, but the latter is dedicated to staying in love.
And this isn’t an either/or dichotomy. Hopeless romantics can keep the flame burning or even to save a relationship that may not have that spark anymore.
But it’s important for them to understand that their feelings, no matter how immaculate they were in their amorousness, is unsustainable. Only by accepting this can hopeless romantics develop a more grounded sense of love.
About Soulmates and the Idea of Eternal Love
For a second, forget everything I just wrote about above and think about the idea of “soulmates”. This is another take you can get from the movie.
Brian and Arielle are soulmates even if they don’t end up as life mates.
The movie beautifully expresses the idea that two people can fall in love despite being in committed relationships and it doesn’t devalue or tarnish their relationship at all.
I’m not a big believer in soulmates and I don’t have any clue as to what it is, but it reminds me of the relationship I have with my best friend. While we have a deep, almost psychic-like bond, we agreed to not go beyond friendship.
The love we feel for each other feels purer. It feels less selfish.
I want her happiness like she wants mine. She hugs me, caresses me and soothes me with all the affection I could ever ask for in a woman and yet I am not left feeling like I need more like an addict going through withdrawal.
Love is, after all, not something you can control.
It’s not something you can quantify or put stipulations on.
It just happens.
We have this flawed idea that our love is like a container and we can only fit so much.
But the film expresses that our love is more flexible and will grow as we find more people to love.
5 to 7 is a personal favourite because of the themes hitting me right in the feels as both a writer and a hopeless romantic.
For hopeless romantics, and this is a message I tell myself, let love happen. Have no expectations. Embrace the idea that whatever preconceived notions we have about it, aren’t always what they seem.
“The world will surprise you with its grace if you let it”.