In this beautifully portrayed and unconventional love story, we meet 24-year-old hopeful writer Brian Bloom (Anton Yelchin). Brian loves to write so much that he neglects all the things that people his age find important. He doesn’t party. or spend time with friends. All he does is read and write. When he has free time in his schedule, he stops by the local bookstore and dreams of one day having his book staring back at him. This all changes the day he meets Arielle (Berenice Marlohe).
Arielle is a beautiful ex-model from France. Brian sees her smoking outside of her hotel and cannot help himself. The two meet, flirt and even make plans to meet again. Brian feels being pulled towards this beautiful older woman who seems to want him as much as he wants her. During a date spent visiting the Guggenheim Museum, Arielle confesses to Brian that she is not only married with children, but that she plans on continuing to see Brian, but only between the hours of 5 and 7. This sets off a chain of events that will change both of their lives forever.
Brian is shocked by this reveal. Raised in an old fashioned Jewish household, he always believed there was one way of being in a couple. This relationship with Arielle tests him in ways he cannot anticipate. The movie beautifully depicts the growth of their bond as both characters become far more intertwined with each other’s worlds. Brian meets Arielle’s husband Valerie ( Lambert Wilson) as well as her two children. Arielle meets Brian’s parents (Glenn Close, Frank Langella).
The bulk of the movie is spent with Brian trying to come to terms with this unconventional life he has found. He can feel his love for Arielle growing, yet he doesn’t understand how this works. How it ever could. He is constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the damage. For the pain. The hopeful novelist finally takes matters into his own hand, leading Arielle and himself down a path they may not be ready for.
The movie is both passionate, loving and funny. Depicting this romance that has no rhyme or reason to exist, let alone work. Yelchin and Marlohe’s intense chemistry, as well as Marlohe’s searing beauty and screen presence, make the film quite easily digestible regardless of the subject matter. Yelchin’s gaze and soft touch make us root for Brian. These characters feel truly fleshed out. With pasts and uncertain futures, investing in their story happened almost immediately.
The idea of two people, from different cultural and social backgrounds, finding one another, loving each other and trying desperately to cling to what they had found was truly touching. Especially in the face of social norms dictating to them that this love was wrong. We watch them as they share stories of their childhoods, as they connect over their differences.
This contrast is beautifully portrayed in their scene together at The Guggenheim museum. A scene at first glance I believed was meant to be comedic, yet after further thought realized that the pair’s different perspective on the art they were witnessing, was a commentary on just how distinctly they saw the world. The fact that it ended with the two sharing their first kiss, again portrays how their bond could not be denied.
Some of my favorite scenes are witnessing the two trying to bridge the gap that exists between them. Brian, so infatuated, spends hours pouring over French culture. Reading books, watching movies all in hopes of getting closer to her. We see Arielle doing the same. The worldly French woman finding herself in a sports bar trying to guess which beer she is being served.
In one of the film’s most poignant moments’, we find Brian’s parents speaking in a car, Brian sitting in the backseat. While his father continues to berate the relationship (for the 8th time) his wife Arlene reminds him that not all couples have it as easy as they did. Not all couples find each other, fall in love and carry on with no barriers or difficulties. They knew from the very beginning where their path would guide them. The same cannot be said for our two protagonists.
Brian is young, impetuous and incredibly naive. His views of the world are still very myopic. His lack of experience is an impediment to his writing. His walls are peppered with letters of rejections from various publications. He wants to believe, while his parents continue to push the idea of law school on him every chance they get.
As someone who hopes to be a published author, I could easily relate to Brian’s insecurities. The questions of are you good enough? Do you have something to say? Even if you did, would people even care? Oftentimes, I find myself asking the same questions. Wondering if this path is the right one. Lucky for him, he found Arielle, who was capable of not only deafening the voices of doubt but giving him all the inspiration he needed to put his words out into the world. As he says “She made me a writer, she made me a man.” We should all be so lucky.
Arielle, on the other hand, was a famous model for many years. Almost every movement of hers is filled with confidence, grace and some worldly knowledge. She has traveled the world and met special and important people. She has experienced all that the world had to offer, yet never knew love. Her marriage is one based on respect and admiration. Brian gives Arielle the feelings of joy and love that she had always lacked. That she had lost faith she would ever have the chance of experiencing.
Love doesn’t always occur when is most convenient. Sometimes we meet the right person at the wrong time. At times obstacles that seem insurmountable are placed before us. The film, just as life often does, makes us ask the question “What would you do for love?”
The idea that love can make us better resonates, regardless of how it finds itself into our lives. Even when love doesn’t give you a happy ending, when it takes you to your breaking point, it can still be a source of good. It can change you, help you grow. Help you to find potential in yourself that lay dormant. This film truly reminded me that if you let it, the world will surprise you with its grace.