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The Woman in the Fifth (2011)
"La femme du Vème" (original title)

5.2
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Ratings: 5.2/10 from 4,019 users   Metascore: 57/100
Reviews: 45 user | 94 critic | 18 from Metacritic.com

A college lecturer flees to Paris after a scandal costs him his job. In the City of Light, he meets a widow who might be involved in a series of murders.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Sezer
Delphine Chuillot ...
Nathalie
Julie Papillon ...
Chloé
Geoffrey Carey ...
Laurent
Mamadou Minte ...
Omar
Mohamed Aroussi ...
Moussa
Jean-Louis Cassarino ...
Judith Burnett ...
Lorraine L'herbert
Marcela Iacub ...
Isabella
Wilfred Benaïche ...
Lieutenand Coutard
Pierre Marcoux ...
Lawyer
Rosine Favey ...
Lawyer's Translator
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Storyline

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. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What you can not resist, you may not survive


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexual content, language and violent images | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

16 November 2011 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The Woman in the Fifth  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$33,011 (USA) (15 June 2012)

Gross:

$112,498 (USA) (13 July 2012)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Featured in The Big Picture: February 2012 (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Tomaszów
Written by Julian Tuwim
Performed by Ewa Demarczyk
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User Reviews

 
A Labyrinth of Question of Fantasy and Reality
17 June 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Douglas Kennedy's perplexing novel THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH has been further contorted by writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski for the film of the same name (aka La femme du Vème). If the viewer has read the novel then the confusion of the story will not be as surprising as it is to the novice viewer. In many ways this is a brilliant cinematic exploration of the fragility of the human mind, how events of the past can influence the manner in which we attempt to reconstruct a viable present. But in other ways this is a film that refuses to tell a story that is logical and will leave many viewers with some serious head scratching by movie's end.

Academic professor of literature and writer Tom Hicks (Ethan Hawke) seems to be fleeing America in the wake of a scandal simply because he wants to see his six-year-old daughter Chloé (Julie Papillon): Tom's estranged wife Nathalie (Delphine Chuillot) refuses to let Tom see his daughter, has a restraining order in place and seems fearful of Tom's character (it is suggested that Tom may have been in prison for the past six years). The police are called and Tom escapes onto a bus, falls asleep and s awakened at the end of the line having been robbed of this luggage and money. He is in the sleazy part of Paris inhabited by North Africans and Moroccans and finds a degree of solace in a tiny café, the beautiful Polish waitress Ania (Joanna Kulig) offers him coffee and introduces him to the owner, Sezer (Samir Guesmi) who allows him to room in the filthy place, an offer that is accompanied by a 'job' where he will be a night watchman in a warehouse visited by shadowy figures who must give a code for Tom to allow entry. Tom uses his night jobsite to write lengthy letters to Chloé and spends his days spying on her at her school. At a bookstore he meets a fellow American who invites him to an evening reception for writers and there he encounters the very strange Margit (Kristin Scott Thomas), a bewitching but enigmatic widow of a Hungarian writer who is obviously attracted to Tom and sets meeting times and places for them to engage in a tryst (in the Fifth Arrondissement). Tom and Margit begin a tempestuous physical affair but at the same time Tom and Ania have an equally passionate affair and there is always in the background Tom's obsession to reunite with his daughter. But the story implodes with a murder, a disappearance, and a very strange change in the veracity of Margit's existence. It is at this point that the film becomes purposefully deranged and bizarre and the audience is left with merely some ideas and clues as to what has really happened. How are these incongruous events to make sense? Can they make sense? Is Tom succumbing to the same fever that kept him sheltered for many days upon his arrival in beautiful Paris? Has time somehow passed him by or is he living in an even grander deceit than he first thought?

The film is basically in French with English subtitles. Ethan Hawke struggle with the French but that is credible for a 'just arrived' American. Kristin Scott Thomas offers her usual excellent skills as the strange Margit and the remainder of the cast do well with what little dialogue they are given. The dank atmospheric cinematography is by Ryszard Lenczewski and the correctly strange musical score (from an aria form a Handel opera sung by a countertenor to piano music excerpts form the Romantic era) is the work of Max de Wardener. Pawel Pawlikowski's moody, menacing, downbeat film takes something from the director's Polish compatriots Polanski and Kieslowski. It is offbeat but for those who appreciate experimental cinema this is well worth your time.

Grady Harp


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