The Woman in the Fifth DVD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
The Woman in the Fifth
Reviewed by
Simon Black
on
The Woman in the Fifth DVD Review The Woman in the Fifth isn’t wrapped up as neatly as Pawlikowski’s previous features, but a host of uniformly strong performances bolstered by a singularly pensive Hawke ensure its central themes ultimately resonate. 
Rating:
3.5

Feature 7.5
Video 9.0
Audio 7.5
Special features 5.0
Total 7.0
Distributor: Madman
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Reviewer: Simon Black
Classification
: M15+

7.0


The Woman in the Fifth

‘Forget your wife, forget your daughter.  Say goodbye to your Polish muse.’ 

Escaping a mysterious crisis in his homeland which has seemingly cost him his career and, as we eventually discover, his sanity, American author and university lecturer Tom Ricks (Ethan Hawke) arrives in Paris, desperate to reconnect with his six-year-old daughter Chloe.  His estranged wife, terrified, promptly calls the police and reminds Ricks of the restraining order she has taken out. This ensures he must spend the rest of the film skulking about like a criminal, eyeing his daughter from a distance or approaching her surreptitiously whilst no one else is watching.  After being robbed on a bus of all his possessions he ends up taking a room in one of Paris’s seedier locales, where he finds an unlikely form of employment at the hands of shady crime boss Sezer (Samir Guesmi).  He also finds contrasting forms of female attention in the guise of a Polish barmaid with a penchant for poetry, as well as in Margit Kadar, a mysterious rouged-up femme fatale portrayed by Kristin Scott Thomas. 

Hawke is, as ever, insular and restrained, an awkward and emotionally blocked outsider seemingly acting as much inside himself as without.  Though his bewilderingly abysmal French accent is monumentally distracting - his three dialogue coaches and previous time spent in France evidently not doing much to contribute to his abilities as regards la langue française - his inherently detached quality makes his eventual breakdown seem all the more plausible.  An evocative and poetic exploration of the line dividing the real from the surreal, The Woman in the Fifth isn’t wrapped up as neatly as Pawlikowski’s previous features, but a host of uniformly strong performances bolstered by a singularly pensive Hawke ensure its central themes ultimately resonate. 

Audio & Video

Pawlikowski is a consummate stylist and his cinematography is a heady blend of bleached-out naturalism and tender stylisation.  Picture quality is strong throughout and the tightly controlled colourisation veers from sparse to lush as the moment requires.  Max de Wardener’s spare score isn’t designed to blow your speakers out, but it’s immersive and atmospheric, neatly augmenting the onscreen tensions.  An English 5.1 audio dub is also on offer during the main feature for those unable to deal with Hawke’s mangling of the French tongue. 

Bonus Features

A 24-minute Making Of comprising some interesting interview and BTS footage, bolstered by a number of clips from the film. 






 
 



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