List Film

The Woman In The Fifth (2 stars)

Elegant but baffling Paris-set drama starring Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas

The Woman In The Fifth

(15) 85mins

Hollywood studios are often derided for making simplistic dramas that feel obliged to spell everything out. The Woman In The Fifth errs in the opposite direction, leaving bewildered viewers scratching their heads and trying to figure out what the film has been all about.

Pawel Pawlikowski’s first feature since My Summer Of Love (2004) is an elegantly executed but baffling disappointment that may be an adaptation of a Douglas Kennedy novel but still gives every appearance of having been made up as they went along.

An understated Ethan Hawke plays American writer and academic Tom who arrives in Paris to build bridges with his estranged wife and daughter. Robbed of all his worldly goods, he takes refuge in a seedy hotel and is offered worked as a night watchman. He also appears to have found a muse in domineering translator Margit, played by a steely Kristin Scott Thomas.

There are elements of absurdist humour, hints that Tom is struggling to retain a grasp on his sanity and even echoes of Roman Polansk’s work in this Kafkaesque conundrum but The Woman In The Fifth is underdeveloped, incomplete and unpersuasive.

Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 17 Feb.

The Woman in the Fifth UK Trailer (HD) (Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas)

The Woman in the Fifth (La femme du Vème)

  • 2 stars
  • 2011
  • France/Poland/UK
  • 85 min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski
  • Written by: Pawel Pawlikowski, Douglas Kennedy
  • Cast: Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas, Joanna Kulig
  • UK release: 17 February 2012

Writer Tom (Hawke, understated) arrives in Paris to build bridges with his estranged family, but then his life falls apart – until he meets Margit (Scott Thomas). Some films err by spelling everything out, but Pawlikowski's elegant but baffling feature doesn't offer enough; despite elements of absurdist humour, it's…

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