THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH (Mongrel, 2011) D: Pawel Pawlikowski, w/ Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas. Rating: NNN; DVD package: none Rating: NNN
Toward the end, The Woman In The Fifth lifts itself out of its mid-point doldrums with a remarkably strange turn that leads to a tense and moving climax.
American novelist Tom Ricks (Ethan Hawke) arrives in Paris to be reunited with his wife and daughter. That fails, and he's left to stalk his daughter and write her long letters from his crummy rented room and boring, criminal job.
Director Pawel Pawlikowski dwells on Tom's inner decay in such detail that the movie starts to feel like a descent-into-madness character study enlivened only a little by Tom's affair with Margit (Kristin Scott Thomas). On some level, she's as strange as he is, and we know she has an agenda.
Scott Thomas has little to do but be seductive and mysterious, while Hawke delivers a portrait of locked-in wretchedness with occasional tender yearnings toward his daughter and violent outbursts. They both handle their chores effectively.
EXTRAS French audio. English, French subtitles.