Lights, Camera, Action! | Ruth and Alex (Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 24.07.2015

Image for Lights, Camera, Action! | Ruth and Alex (Movie Review)

Ruth and Alex (UK Rating: 12A)

After 15 years of travelling the UK for Location, Location, Location, Messrs Allsopp and Spencer must be running short of clients, in which case, they should watch Ruth and Alex, released in cinemas and on demand from today, Friday 24th July. Not only is there a ready-made market for their talents, but Kirstie's bossiness and Phil's blokey charm would go down a storm, and they would do the film a power of good, as well.

Ruth (Diane Keaton) and Alex (Morgan Freeman) have been married for over 40 years, spending most of their lives together in the same Brooklyn apartment. The area has come up in the world, yet there's no lift to get up the five floors to their front door, so it seems the right time to move. With a niece who is a real estate agent, it should be easy to sell up and find something more suitable, but an emergency on the nearby Brooklyn Bridge is just one of the things standing in their way.

Image for Lights, Camera, Action! | Ruth and Alex (Movie Review)
This has the look and feel of film very much aimed at the grey market, yet it deliberately side-steps every opportunity to look more deeply at the issues in the storyline that sit up and beg for some attention. Racial attitudes in the '70s when the couple got together is one, the downsides of ageing is another but, whenever the film is in danger of getting too close to either of them, or having anything significant to say, it all gets swept under the carpet. Instead, it leans heavily on the appeal of its two leads, since Keaton or Freeman - or both - are, in themselves, good enough reasons to see a film. The trouble is that this slight little tale over-relies on their appeal and essentially just coasts along.
A decent sub-plot would have stood a chance of giving the film some weight. There's something approximating one in the story about the couple's beloved terrier having a lifesaving operation - just something else to think about, as well as selling their apartment and finding a new one - but it hardly brings anything to the table. There's also a tale that runs constantly in the background on TV, all to do with that incident on the Brooklyn Bridge. If it's meant to provide a reason for the general chaos in the city at the time, then it shows really poor judgement on the part of the director and writer. The incident is a tanker hijack, the suspect is on the run, and, from the news reports, is likely to be a terrorist. It's unconvincing to the point of irritating, let alone being in questionable taste.

This small story has been padded out with all the haggling that goes into buy and selling a home. How much to bid? What offer to accept? What to write as a personal statement? Does anybody in the UK want to know this much about the home buying process in New York? Not really, and the American audiences who saw it a couple of months ago would have been even less interested. Very simply, there just isn't enough here for a 90-minute feature film.
Rated 4 out of 10


Keaton and Freeman can play roles like these while stood on their heads. As it is, it looks like they breezed through Ruth and Alex on a week off. Take all the buying and selling shenanigans out of it and there's little left other than a romantic older couple and a cute terrier. It is undemanding, uninspired, and disappointingly underwhelming.

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