By William Wolf


Two appealing stars string out a rather improbable tale of a couple planning to buy a new apartment despite attachment to their long-time abode. The couple is Ruth, played by the ever-enchanting Diane Keaton, and Alex, portrayed by the always-interesting Morgan Freeman. Shown at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, the film has been directed by Richard Loncraine from a screenplay by Charlie Peters based on Jill Ciment’s novel “Heroic Measures, Ruth & Alex.”

Ruth and Alex, having established their home in Brookyn during the 1970s (there are appropriate flashbacks), are now faced with needing to walk up too many flights of stairs with the prospect for that getting worse as they age further. Even their dog looks tired navigating the steps. So the logical thing might be to find another more convenient apartment, although they, particularly Alex, so used to everything he enjoys, are loath to leave.

The idea is serviceable. And there are touching scenes reflecting love and affection. But the quest for a new apartment, the need to make quick decisions and the relationship with their broker friend, played by Cynthia Nixon, are dragged out ad infinitum. The portrait of the ultra pushy broker is a thorough cliché and is acted accordingly by Nixon. At a critical point in her expressed hostility toward her friends, the outburst of nastiness is so unlikely as to be ridiculous. Even rejected brokers try to keep relationships open, especially with close friends.

The film grows tiresome after a while, despite the appeal of the stars. We do get a tour of some of the pleasures and problems of New York. But all of that is incidental to the main focus, and while the film has its moments, it loses momentum as it crawls along. Reviewed October 2, 2014.


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