The Woman in the Fifth Movie Review

This intriguing experiment in cinematic disorientation is so well-made that it can't help but pull us into its perplexing narrative. It's a little too vague to be satisfying, but it's thoroughly haunting.

One-time novelist Tom (Hawke) travels from America to Paris to reconnect with his ex-wife (Chuillot) and his 6-year-old daughter (Papillon), but is immediately confronted with a restraining order. He's also robbed of his luggage and left in a cafe on the edge of town, where the waitress (Kulig) and owner (Guesmi) offer him a room and a job as a night watchman. Then he meets the alluring Margit (Scott Thomas) at a literary party, and she begins to take his mind off his troubles.

Filmmaker Pawlikowski almost subliminally shifts this film from an open-hearted drama into a kind of low-key thriller as Tom begins to descend into something that might be madness or possibly something supernatural. It doesn't really matter what's really happening here, because we're seeing everything from Tom's rather unreliable perspective. And every element of the film conspires cleverly to put us in his shoes.

Hawke gives the role the full force of his boyish charm. We can't help but like him even though we know there are dark shadows inside him. His awkward encounters with another tenant (Minte) at the cafe are genuinely terrifying, while his clandestine observation of his daughter's activities starts to become rather unsettling the more we realise that Tom might not be as trustworthy as we thought. Meanwhile, Scott Thomas gives a gleefully slinky performance as the seductress who might be luring Tom into something rather grim.

Pawlikowski assembles this in short, sharp scenes that abruptly cut into each other even as they're constantly interrupted by unnerving noises. Tom's work as a night watchman is frightening because he doesn't have a clue who he's working for. And his encounters with both the waitress and Margit bristle with underlying tension. So as it continues, we begin to understand that this story could go almost anywhere, and also that the filmmakers will probably leave the real dot-connecting to our imaginations. But when they've provoked us as much as Pawlikowski does, that's not a bad thing at all.

Cast & Crew

Starring : , , Joanna Kulig, Samir Guesmi, , Julie Papillon, Geoffrey Carey, Mamadou Minte


The Woman in the Fifth Rating

" Good "

Rating: 15, 2011


More Ethan Hawke

'Boyhood' has 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. It Is Almost the Perfect Movie

It's no surprise that Richard Linklater's movie Boyhood was this week installed as the favorite to win Best Picture at the Oscars next year. Filmed...

Ellar Coltrane's Journey As Mason in Richard Linklater's Boyhood

When Ellar Coltrane was auditioning for the role of Mason as a 6-year-old, Richard Linklater was more interested in the resilience of his parents rather...

Boyhood: The "Tremendous Risk" That Came Good at This Weekend's Box Office

The box office was dominated by big budget blockbusters this weekend: Dawn of The Planet of The Apes finally usurped Transformers: Age of Extinction’s dominance...

Boyhood Movie Review

By shooting this film over 12 years, writer-director Richard Linklater is able to explore family dynamics in an intensely involving way that's never been seen...


BOYHOOD is a once-in-a-lifetime classic

Shot over 12 years, Richard Linklater's new film Boyhood is being called the best movie of the decade. Its cast members have been out talking...

'Boyhood' Wows Critics & Promises To Change Cinema But Will Audiences Be As Impressed?

Boyhood is a coming-of-age film which literally follows its cast as they grown over the space of 12 years. The long filming has certainly impressed...

Boyhood Trailer

When Mason was an unwitting 6-year-old boy, he had no idea - like the rest of his peers - just how much of a rollercoaster...

'The Purge: Anarchy' Trailer Released: More Scary Killers, A Shakier Premise [Trailer]

Just over a year after the release of The Purge, James DeMonaco will drop the next instalment of the chilling sci-fi thriller, The Purge: Anarchy....