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also known as La femme du Vème

The Woman in the Fifth2011

  • 3.4
American writer Tom Ricks comes to Paris desperate to put his life together again and win back the love of his estranged wife and daughter. When things don’t go according to plan, he ends up in a shady hotel in the suburbs, having to work as a night guard to make ends meet. Then Margit, a beautiful, mysterious stranger walks into his life and things start looking up. Their passionate and intense relationship triggers a string of inexplicable events, as if an obscure power was taking control of his life. Academy Award®-nominated Kristin Scott Thomas and Academy Award®-nominated Ethan Hawke join dramatic forces in Pawel Pawlikowski’s hypnotic thriller, THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH. Adapted from the New York Times best-selling author Douglas Kennedy’s 2011 novel, Pawlikowski’s genre-defying film follows a complicated, conflicted and ambiguous hero as his world spirals out of control. Joanna Kulig and Samir Guesmi also star.

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3 members like this review

Tom is a writer and unless you know Polish you don't really know what he wrote. You know he yearned for his daughter and spent some time in some kind of confinement but details are never really presented. As the film unfolds you get glimpses of his volatility and frustrations at not meeting his goals or potential. He is stymied by forces out of his control, or is he really? Maybe he just wants to be back where he feels safe and protected again where he can be with someone "forever". An Existentialist script, Impressionist photo beauty and a subtle and atmospheric musical score all lend themselves to propelling this mystery forward

to it's perplexing finish. A study on the nature of reality that is masterly directed by Pawel Pawlikowski("Ida"). Kristen Scott Thomas was chilling and Ethan Hawke's dreamlike bewilderment fit the bill.

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top reviewer
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Member Reviews (15)

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top reviewer

"Tom" looks a bit like Clark Kent, but he'll never be Superman. He seems broken, explosive, incredibly sad, closed, fragile. Seldom smiling. even his few joys seemed sad. He's an uncomfortable companion for a 90 minute journey. He was lost, and I felt lost. It began falling apart for me; where is the reality? Who is real? What is going on? If the clues are there, I failed to find them. But the acting must have been very good for me to feel so involved and then so frustrated. The darkness and the dirtiness got to me. I need a little sunshine.

5 members like this review
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top reviewer

There is nothing clearly defined in this story. Its like waiting for the ball to drop, for something to overwhelm and transform the path of its main character. It never does drop and it leaves a sense of wanting, unsatisfied till the end. The direction is fantastic though and I recommend it for that wholeheartedly.

4 members like this review
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top reviewer

Tom is a writer and unless you know Polish you don't really know what he wrote. You know he yearned for his daughter and spent some time in some kind of confinement but details are never really presented. As the film unfolds you get glimpses of his volatility and frustrations at not meeting his goals or potential. He is stymied by forces out of his control, or is he really? Maybe he just wants to be back where he feels safe and protected again where he can be with someone "forever". An Existentialist script, Impressionist photo beauty and a subtle and atmospheric musical score all lend themselves to propelling this mystery forward

to it's perplexing finish. A study on the nature of reality that is masterly directed by Pawel Pawlikowski("Ida"). Kristen Scott Thomas was chilling and Ethan Hawke's dreamlike bewilderment fit the bill.

3 members like this review
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top reviewer

It succeeds in creating a sense of dread and uncertainty, but this is mainly due to formal elements such as a striking cinematography that can make even the grimiest parts of Paris look oddly appealing. The fetching character played by Joanna Kulig is surely as much a figment of his imagination as the one played by Kristin Scott Thomas....right?

1 member likes this review

Really enjoyed this movie, it delves into a character study of a medical patient in a similar sense to how Sylvia Plath did in a Bell Jar. From the point of view of the affected it makes things more apparent as to how logic follows its natural course in perfection, even though one must deal with neurotic thoughts to have equilibrium. Here is a man who loves deeply, to whom most calm souls can relate to in his struggle, however he suffers from something we deny defiantly without fully understanding. The cause and effect of the plot and its suspense did not seem as important to me as feeling compassion for a fellow man at the loss of his daughter, dealing with the throws of connection.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

Ethan Hawke is one of the most underrated actors. Here he is brilliant, disturbing and self imploding. The film is a work to behold and requires repeat viewings to understand .

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top reviewer

A wonderful director and wonderful acting talent. I got lost several times before I realized that was their intent. The film-0-tography is splendid. I will watch it again in a few months to see what I missed. Pawel P. Is a subtle director. Pee first, though, so you don't get more confused.

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top reviewer

Ethan Hawkes character, Tom Ricks, is a man who trying to recapture, reconnect, and hold on to his past, his wife and child. As hard as he tries, this character is unravelling from the beginning and throughout this film. It's hard to tell what is real and what is a dream, and he is drifting in and out of the arms and fantasies of women, as well as the danger and intrigue of this strange environment. A very moody, and sad film as much as it is intriguing and poetic.

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top reviewer

Pawel Pawlikowski's Woman In The Fifth (2011) is just a VERY POOR film,

in my opinion.

The character of Tom Ricks is ill conceived and quite frankly pathetic.

Tom, overall, is portrayed as just being a very STUPID man, a LOSER. He

even acts STUPID most of the time, as when he tries to exit the

attorney's office through the wrong door, and when he loses his luggage

and money when he falls asleep on the bus, and he consistently wears a

STUPID, LOSER expression on his face throughout the whole film. His

expression reminds me of a deer caught in the headlights. There is

nothing in Tom's character that would suggest that he was a college

lecturer and a novelist, as he says he is in the film. There is a

suggestion early in the film that Tom was previously in a hospital,

presumably a mental hospital, and his "imaginary" lover Margrit, I

suppose, is supposed to be a psychotic hallucination. But mentally ill

people don't act the way Tom does. The screenwriter and the director

failed to differentiate between mental illness and STUPIDITY.

Although Tom's supposedly a former college lecturer and a novelist, he

can't find a better job in Paris than working as a "guard" of some

sort. Even without a work permit, someone with Tom's education would be

able to find a better job "off the books" just by going around Paris

and talking to people, by using the verbal skills that enabled him to

write a novel. and to be a lecturer on literature. He even looks

pathetic and incompetent in his first approach to Margrit at the

literary party. His verbal skills in trying to "pick up" Margrit are

pathetic.

The whole premise that Tom came all the way to Paris just to be with

his daughter is ill conceived. He seems to have moved to Paris without

any preparation, with no place to stay, and no job prospects. Only a

LOSER would move from the USA to Paris so unprepared. That he stumbles

into a café after his money is stolen where the owner,Serez is willing

to give him a room without any money up front is an unreal

:coincidence". That the same Serez just happens to have an "off the

books" job for Tom when he needs one is another unreal "coincidence".

Such "unreal coincidences" in a screenplay indicate a weak substitution

of a literary artifice for real creative thought.

That Tom would become involved with the café waitress Annia without

knowing that she is already Serez's girlfriend is just STUPID. Only a

LOSER could spend as much time at the café as Tom did without picking

up on the fact that Serez already had something going with Annia. That

Annia would be so forward in her attempts to seduce Tom without at

least advising him that she has some sort of romantic attachment to

Serez, an obviously "bad dude", is even more STUPID.

The whole nature of the "guard" job that Serez gives Tom is STUPID. Tom

seems to understand that there is something shady going on behind the

locked door that he monitors, but is seemingly not concerned that his

"guard" job might be implicating him in criminal activity. That the

viewer is never informed about what the nature of the "mysterious"

business is behind the door that Tom is "guarding" is even more STUPID,

and is merely indicative of a flaky screenplay.

The whole business about Margrit is STUPID. The detective that was

questioning Tom goes to Margrit's apartment only to return to tell Tom

that Margrit committed suicide years before. So if Margrit is just some

sort of psychotic hallucination by Tom, then how did Tom get the

illusory woman's name correct, and even know her correct address?

Psychotic hallucinations don't travel back in time and "attach"

themselves to already dead people, and to their last known address when

they were alive. What Tom was experiencing was more like a paranormal,

or a voodoo experience, and nothing like mental illness at all. People

who are mentally ill enough to hallucinate do not do so only part of

the time. People mentally ill enough to hallucinate as vividly as Tom

supposedly did about Margrit, are VERY mentally ill ALL of the time.

The character Tom in this film is not convincingly portrayed as being

mentally ill at all, but, rather, as a LOSER. And LOSERS do not have

psychotic hallucinations but rather, are more likely to end up sitting

on a street curb in skid row drinking out of a wine bottle.

After the detective tells Tom that Margrit killed herself years ago,

why didn't Tom produce the calling card Margrit gave him at the party,

or advise the detective about the bookstore owner who invited Tom to

that party? Tom isn't shown going back to the bookstore owner to try to

confirm that a "real" Margrit even attended the party. There's a BIG

"hole" in the storyline right here.

Overall, there is no discernible "meaning" in this film for me. This

film doesn't even "just spins a good yarn" because the film doesn't

even give the viewer any kind of clear story. It's just about the

aimless wanderings of an inadequate, incompetent man, a LOSER, with a

consistently STUPID look on his face that has some kind of paranormal,

or voodoo experience involving a woman who's been dead for many years.

THIS FILM IS A LOSER. The money and time spent on making this film was

just a WASTE.

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top reviewer

excellent film & i can't stand Ethan Hawke _but it's all put together really well & beautifully done_a totally mystery but worth the mystery

Esthetically pleasing but not easy to follow journey. We don't know why he's troubled, we don't know why his wife is so estranged from him, we don't know why he doesn't take practical measures to extricate himself from present circumstances which are fraught with danger and unease.

All characters well enacted, but . . . not sure what exactly happened or why I should care.

If you must have structured plot with definite conclusions, look elsewhere. If, however, you can enjoy a slice of non glamorous Parisian life, prettily shot, where you may never know what is real and what is not, like your own life, then spend a moment looking through another person's eyes at a life not yours. It doesn't demand or have a huge climax... it is a story shared by a stranger in a train, instead of an epic crowd pleaser.

Tom's ex-wife was exactly right: he's not normal. And whether the disconnection (and psychosis) he experiences was self-created by way of a fragile ego and self-pity or forced upon him by circumstances of sincere grief and loss doesn't matter. Tom is the perfectly exposed hypersensitive soul in melt-down mode. Even without any back story (beyond what the ex-wife inadvertently conveys) you know some truly painful scenes have already transpired—and will again. The casting and acting, as well as the directing and cinematography, were all superb. I can't remember the last time the grimy or bitter class margins of Paris were photographed with so much attention to detail, perhaps since 'The Tenant,' revealing the full weight of its utterly bleak melancholy. 'The Woman in the Fifth' is one of those "little films" with profound implications and resonance for today's lost souls. Hawke deserves some kind of award.

It is hard to believe this man could also be the man who made Ida just two years later.

So just who is crazy? It's kinda creepy!