Ruth & Alex, film review: Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman star in under-charged drama

(12A) Richard Loncraine, 90 mins. Starring: Morgan Freeman, Diane Keaton, Cynthia Nixon
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The Independent Culture

Attractively played by Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman, Ruth & Alex still seems like a Saga holiday of a film, easy-going in its doddery way but under-charged.

It is a drama which hinges on the fact that its elderly protagonists live in a New York apartment that doesn't have a lift. They struggle to get up the stairs; worse, their pet dog is ailing. They are looking to sell up, ostensibly because their neighbourhood is too expensive and artist Alex's paintings have fallen out of fashion. Bizarrely, instead of downsizing, they start bidding for bigger apartments.

The film mildly satirises New York estate agents. Cynthia Nixon is good value as Ruth's seemingly cheery "realtor" niece, who is far more interested in her commission than the well-being of Ruth and Alex, and more neurotic than she seems.

There are poignant flashbacks, too, in which Ruth and Alex are played by younger actors. We see the prejudice they faced in 1960s America. Ruth and Alex have their share of yearnings and disappointments but the film-makers don't want to delve too far into those.