Woman In The Fifith

Art & Culture

I've been looking forward to Pawel Pawlikowski's new film ever since My Summer Of Love several years ago, so it gives me no pleasure to have to report that when I finally saw this film at TIFF in September, I experienced an almost complete lack of interest and an intense disappointment. And yes, that's even with Kristin Scott Thomas in a leading role.

Ethan Hawke plays an American author who arrives in Paris and attempts to see his daughter. But his ex-wife (who seems to have a restraining order against him), refuses to allow him access. He gets on a bus, falls asleep and ends up at the end of the line with his wallet nicked. He finds refuge in a cafe where he is allowed to stay in return for some sinister night work. He meets a mysterious and beautiful woman (KST) who takes him back to her place and then takes him.

The film is composed of a series of inexplicable conundrums, so that you figure it will all be explained eventually. Not so. At the end of the film, I was none the wiser about what the hell was going on or why, but more seriously, I didn't care either. Ethan Hawke is not the most appealing of actors, and as he ages, he manages to still look like the little boy lost he played in Dead Poets Society many years ago. His passive gormlessness as he wanders round Paris doing what he's told without taking any significant decisions of his own is one part of the problem. Another is the lack of credible or interesting characters with whom to identify. And then, as I mentioned, there is the plot problem. What just happened?

It seems a shame that a director of Pawlikowski's talents should have to wait so long to make a film, and then end up with a dud like this, so let's hope he gets back on the horse and produces another terrific movie.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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