The Movie Waffler New Release Review - The Woman In The Fifth | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - The Woman In The Fifth

Directed by: Pawel Pawlikowski
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas, Joanna Kulig, Samir Guesmi

I'm always suspicious of a work of fiction which features a writer as it's protagonist, there's always the danger of self-aggrandizing and wish-fulfillment. Pawlikowski takes it a step further by actually casting a writer, Hawke, as his lead.
This is a sort of pastiche of every bad piece of fiction set in Paris but written by someone who has never set foot in the place. The problem is that it's so on the nose that by the time you realise Pawlikowski is in on the joke you've already lost your patience with the cliched story.
Hawke is one of my least favorite actors, a relic of the nineties like the goatee he consistently sports. Force him to deliver lines in French and his performance becomes even blander, something I hadn't thought possible. The best asset Pawlikowski has here is Scott Thomas, looking incredible for a fifty year old, but she's wasted in the role of Hawke's literal dream girl. Guesmi is charismatic but his role is little more than an Arab stereotype.
The most effective part of the film is the subplot involving Hawke's night job manning the door of a creepy warehouse where suspicious types turn up in the middle of the night asking to meet with "Monsieur Monde". These scenes were genuinely tense but the subplot ultimately is left hanging and we never get a reveal of what Mr Monde was up to. On this evidence Pawlikowski may be better served making straight thrillers than trying to prove how clever he is.