Take two Hollywood treasures, Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton, and a smart script about real adults with real emotions in a real-life situation and what do you get? A gem of a film.
This finely-tuned drama is appealing because of the delicately-woven relationship between a retired couple who decide to put their Brooklyn apartment on the market and the effect it has on them.
Retired teacher Ruth Carver (Keaton) and her artist husband, Alex (Freeman), have lived in the apartment through 40 years of marriage. With no lift, each day they have to negotiate the five flights of steps that take them to the sunny two-bedroomed apartment they share with a cute dog named Dorothy. But it has become a bit much and now they want to find a more user-friendly pad.
Over the years the property values have gone up in Brooklyn and the neighbourhood has become more trendy. They shouldn’t have a problem finding a buyer.
Ruth enlists the help of her motor-mouth, gung-ho niece real estate agent Lily (Cynthia Nixon) to sell their apartment despite the more practical Alex having misgivings. What ensues is a painfully funny open house where an eclectic bunch of hard-bitten New Yorkers overrun the Carvers’ beloved home while Lily is juggling the various offers that are flowing in — all with a time limit.
New Yorkers come across as slightly mad, hyper-competitive and cold-blooded in their pursuit of a good deal.
When the Carvers find a new apartment in Manhattan, the sale is contingent on them selling their own place. Two sub-plots add resonance to the narrative; the search for an alleged terrorist in the area (which they fear will bring property prices down) and illness in their beloved, ageing Dorothy.
The emotional roller-coaster is beautifully acted and comes across with genuine feeling as the Carvers are forced to take stock of their past, present and future.