Family Matters: Our Review of ‘5 Years Apart’

Family Matters: Our Review of ‘5 Years Apart’

As we all know, navigating family matters can be tough.

It doesn’t matter how old you get, it seems like family disagreements about life choices and petty arguments have a way of following us. While some families seem to negotiate these tense waters better than others, many of us dread having to spend too much time with those who think they ‘know us best’. In fact, at a time when we’re living life virtually and practicing social distancing, the idea of a family get-together can seem even more awkward.

This tension is highlighted in 5 Years Apart, a new romantic dramedy that tells the story of Andrew (Scott Michael Foster) and Sammy (Michael Vlamis), two estranged brothers born on the same day, five years apart. When Sammy decides to stay at his parent’s home while they’re away, he meets the mysterious Emma (Chloe Bennett), who he immediately finds attractive. As he and Emma go back to ‘his’ home, he’s shocked to find Andrew and his wife, Olivia (Ally Maki) have also decided to stay the weekend. As the couples decide to make the arrangement work, the weekend will cause family squabbles and personal issues to rise to the surface, making this a birthday weekend no one will soon forget.

Directed by Joe Angelo Manconi (who also co-wrote with Zac Krause), 5 Years is a surprisingly light and fun dramatic comedy that charms from start to finish. For his first full-length feature, Manconi does an excellent job keeping the film moving with a tight and witty script that also makes good use of its set design to build tension. By focusing most of the story in one location, Manconi does an excellent job maintaining the sense of claustrophobia between couples who have no interest spending the weekend together yet also have nowhere to run.

Most importantly for any comedy though is that the film also earns its laughs along the way. Given the family relationships and proximity of space, the film requires chemistry between its cast and, in 5 Years, that is absolutely the case. Stars Bennett, Foster, Maki and Vlamis feed off each other’s strengths within the film, allowing each other to have their moments while also offering all the awkwardness that stems from family drama. However, while all four leads are enjoyable, it’s newcomer Vlamis that is that is the absolute stand-out here. Best known for his role as Michael Guerin in Roswell, New Mexico, Vlamis absolutely shines as lovable dreamer Sammy and maintains simmering chemistry with potential love interest Bennett throughout the film.

The most endearing aspect of 5 Years Apart is that, despite its heightened atmosphere, the film’s tension is realistic enough to feel authentic. Staying away from exorbitant plot devices such as past affairs or dark secrets, 5 Years carries normal family issues that can drive a wedge between siblings. By arguing over issues such as personal life choices and disagreements about caring for our parents, the character arcs seem natural and even relatable to anyone watching. Simple problems between people that genuinely care about one another are the driving force that can make or break families and maybe that’s what makes 5 Years feel so honest.

This family drama could be anyone’s.

Miscommunications and misunderstandings within 5 Years may be what has simmered between these characters for years. However, the film also understands that humility and grace are needed to restore what’s been broken in the past. In this way, there’s a certain level of hope that underscores the film as characters learn to understand each other’s perspectives and focus on the value of others more than their petty differences.

Painfully awkward in some moments and hilarious in others, 5 Years Apart is an enjoyable escape for the weekend. While the cast is wonderful and their chemistry pops, the best part of the film is that it highlights the fact that the things that our family may think define who we are can actually can become launch points for deeper relationships. Given the fact that most of use have family drama, clinging to that hope can be important for us all.

After all, this family could be yours too.

5 Years Apart premieres on VOD on August 21st, 2020.

This post was written by
Born at a very early age, Steve is a Toronto-based writer and podcaster who loves to listen to what matters to our culture on screen. When he first saw Indiana Jones steal the cross of Coronado, he knew his world would never be the same and, since then, he’s found more and more excuses to digest what’s in front of him onscreen. Also, having worked as a youth and community minister for almost 20 years, he learned that stories help everyone engage the world around them. He’s a proud hubby, father (x2) and believes that Citizen Kane, Batman Forever (yes, the Kilmer one), and The Social Network belong in the same conversation. You can hear his ramblings on ScreenFish Radio wherever podcasts are gettable or at his website,
Comments are closed.