Drugs are a downer and art uplifts in “5 Up 2 Down,” a contempo Manhattan hipster meller that strikes all the familiar notes and no new ones. Pic’s most impressive stroke is conveying the long stretches of anomie and dead time experienced by cokeheads on a five-day binge, but pic’s predictable dramatics weaken the impact. Fans of fine thesp Isaach De Bankole will be pleased to see him in a lead role, but will wish he had better material than offered in this pic, which seems destined for secure cable nightclubs.
Street hustler Santo (Kirk Acevedo) and up-and-coming artist Hunter (De Bankole) share a Gotham flat and a serious addition to blow, which they indulge in during days-long sessions. In between, Santo jots thoughts and doodles in a notebook while neglecting his ailing mom, and Hunter tries to finish one last painting for his new gallery show.
Early scenes with Santo, Hunter, Hunter’s g.f. Allie (Paz de la Huerta) and coked-up DJ Disco Dave (Mike Doyle) promises the kind of electric sizzle that distinguished “It’s All Gone Pete Tong,” but little comes of it.
This halfway manner typifies pic, which includes a protracted “dream” sequence set in the slavery era that’s high on symbolism and low on impact.
Mid-section focus on the pals’ total zoned-out state is quite effective, and even if the general sense of the New York art world (and the art work itself) is hardly convincing, De Bankole quietly builds a character trying to push himself in a new, post-drug direction. Acevedo looks doomed from the start, while supporting thesps tend to overdo their moments under Steven Kessler’s direction.
Full quality of Till N. Neumann’s cinematography was hard to judge given pic’s second-rate telecine print shown in CineVegas; despite this, Neumann scored a special fest prize for his work.