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3.2 out of 5 stars
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 1 April 2014
"Woman in the Fifth" (Mongrel DVD-4857 being the North American edition which I acquired) is a strange and unsettling film which opens question upon perplexing question in the viewer's mind and resolves nothing, even at the end. My "take" is that Margit, one of the novelist's two lovers, who, it turns out, had died a decade and an half before the time of the action portrayed even begins, somehow has drawn the protagonist into another realm of time and being, suspended between present and past. Having come to Paris to be near the daughter of his marriage with a wife now estranged, divorced, the writer, depending on one's perception, either sinks into a shadow life of mental illness or into the realm of the esoteric and occult, although he does not realise how fully until the film's dénouement of the various strands of his life and those of others among the cast. Ethan Hawke as the writer is bewildered, sad, and yet at times impetuously sexy despite the pervasive gloom of his moodiness, frustration, and torment.

Some find the motion picture chaotic and disorganised. I disagree about that. The film is wonderfully artistic, and, weird and it turns out more and more to be as its action proceeds, there is a clear line, one that is artistic and intuitive, from beginning to end, though not one that is susceptible to logical explanation and analysis. There are no extra features included, either, at least in the DVD as I found it, to help to shed some light on the film's tantalisingly unresolved mysteries or regarding what prompted the movie's creators to produce what they did. The film is just its own, by turns grungy, sensuously bittersweet, and rather nightmarishly peculiar self, a wondrously odd work of art. It is not, however, for those who regard as essential a tight movie plot and straightforward path to a clear conclusion!
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on 14 May 2014
Boring. Uninvolving. Incredible. Waste of good talent. Good cinematography. Sides of Paris not normally on tourist trail. Better ways of spending an evening.
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on 5 July 2015
Disapointing, because having read the book I expected so much more. The screen writers and the director have reduced a absorbing, well writen book that was very hard to put down into a rather boring film.
I switched it off half way through on first viewing, but tried again another day, thinking that maybe it will get better, but alas, it didn't..
Whilst it must difficult to put onto film a complex story, there must be a better way than to cut out huge swathes, and then to fill in the spaces with a variety of stills, and soft or just plain, out of focus shots. Bluray is a waste of money.
It was also a sad waste of acting talent.
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on 22 October 2015
If you have read the book, then the film will be very disappointing to view, because there is one change in the plot location that affects and ruins the whole tone of the story. Yes, both versions are set in Paris: hence the title ‘The Woman in the Fifth.’ In the book, the estranged wife and daughter have been left behind in America as ‘Tom’ flees to Paris alone to avoid a scandal of his own making. This is not so in the film.....Tom arrives in Paris to unite his family from estrangement. Furthermore, there are also a great number of plot details missing from a fascinating story from the author, Douglas Kennedy... it is like a big gap of a hole that the film can only seem to portray and make sense.... by compressing the story into an 80 minute narrative with occult like interpretations.

Furthermore, the lengthy plot of the book is vital to hold the story together. I am also not keen on Ethan Hawke who plays Tom (whose name is Harry in the original story.) Ethan Hawke, as an actor, looks too introspective and miserable for the character to be liked. I do like Kristin Scott Thomas though- she is irresistible, and perfectly cast as the mysterious Margit.

Having compared the film to the book, there is great merit to savour though - with the artistry of the film making: art- house filming –and remarkable in quality. Overall, the film appears dreamy, but drab, and ends abruptly without the full story being told, leaving one feeling sad, confused, and short changed...and it does not help that the filming of the ‘imaginary of the woodland’ might offer a clue to the ‘owl like’ magic to solve the mystery?

Again, while the film has merit on its own strength- it would have been a real plot spoiler to have see the film prior to reading the book -to have known the mystery of Margit, to whom, The Woman of the Fifth is so named. I am glad I did not do this as the book is great to read: Of course, I feel sad and confused having now watched the film....I wish that the film director could explain his artistic interpretation?
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on 11 August 2012
I enjoyed most of the film as it was atmospheric and showed the darker side of Paris life and the acting was good however the supernatural twist was weak (as others have suggested in reviews of the book). I think the plot was fine up until the end - that depended on believing that the main character, played by Ethan Hawke, was in an unstable mental state and had been hallucinating - but there the film did not succeed.I was left wondering if I had missed some clues earlier in the story as things were not explained and there was no final resolution.
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on 16 May 2013
It was OK but a bit boring. The book was much better, because it was more chilling. This version had Harry Ricks coming to Paris to see his daughter (primary school age) there and his wife, who lived alone. There was no man in her life and no hint as to what had caused the separation - hints at illness were all. And the Turkish wife of the cafe owner was Polish and there was much more emphasis on that, because the director of this film was Polish I think. Anyway it was OK and fairly entertaining but not quite in the same league as the book.
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on 10 May 2014
What a weird film. Wish I hadn't bothered with it. Still don't understand what it was all about. My advice-give it a miss
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on 7 May 2015
A poor relation to the book...some enthusiastic acting but really does not convey the emotion, drama or intrigue that you get from the original storyline. Even as a stand alone film it leaves the viewer thinking 'surely there must be more to this', disappointing at the end of the day, not a film Inwould recommend.
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on 22 June 2014
The woman In the Fifth is one of these gems whose qualities is so hard to convey through text. In short, the scripts holds, characters are eminently real ( most of them reminding me of people I have crossed the path of). Some other reviewer coin the places and situations as unrealistic, and this is probably because they do not know the north of Paris, but the portrayal is pretty spot on. The cosmopolitan-ish litterary circles are also very well depicted.

What really transforms this film from a curiosity to a must see is the outstanding photography. The script could have been terrible and a the depiction of places ridiculous, yet I still would have enjoyed the film purely as a delight to the eye. The images are intelligent, sensitive and well composed; watch the film, enjoy the photo book.
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on 19 November 2013
A gripping tale - made you question what you had earlier presumed about characters and situations as it went along. One to watch again to see if your previous assumptions were correct or not. Great twists in the plot. Some great performances from the actors too.
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