The Woman in the Fifth (15)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas
Pawel Pawlikowski has been lying low since he made the terrific My Summer of Love in 2004. The Woman in the Fifth indicates a new tenor in his work, and I wish I could say it enhances his reputation.
Adapted from the novel by Douglas Kennedy, it shapes up as a realistic drama before making a knight's-move into an identity conundrum. Ethan Hawke plays Tom, an American writer having a bad time in Paris: his estranged wife won't let him see their six-year-old daughter, and he's just had his suitcase stolen. Without a sou to his name, he blags a room in a cheap hotel, and via the proprietor takes on a mysterious security job.
Paris has seldom looked as drab as it does here, all grey dishwater skies and concrete walkways to nowhere. Tom, mooning about the city like a ghost, sways between the attentions of Kristin Scott Thomas's elegant literary translator and Joanna Kulig's kindly Polish waitress. "I feel like the real me is somewhere else," he says. "The me that's here is a sad double."
So what exactly is going on? Has Tom done in the lout next door for not flushing the communal loo? Do they really charge for drinks at Parisian literary soirées? The film, seemingly poised for revelation, begins to fold in on itself, its narrative boobytraps mistimed and muddling.
The prospective thriller stalls, and we're left to wonder how much of the intrigue is for real, and how much is in Tom's head. Hawke, so good as the American in Paris of Before Sunset, makes an unhappy return here – even for a writer he looks vague and even a bit gormless. Scott Thomas's part, a mere cartoon of chic, is unworthy of her. It's all quite a disappointment.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 David Sedaris: What I learnt from Fitbit about the world around me
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: 'It's only rape if the victim is conscious'
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked next, threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson front a Marvel superhero movie
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Star Wars Episode 7: Game of Thrones actor Miltos Yerolemou joins cast
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming in September 2014
Best movies on Netflix UK and US: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Scottish independence: No vote collapses to six point lead in latest poll with just 16 days to go