"Kobieta z piątej dzielnicy" - zwiastun filmu
Paweł Pawlikowski and Joanna Kulig on the set of "The Woman in the Fifth", photo: Jean-Claude Lother / SPI International Polska
At first glance a thriller, a multifaceted story that according to its director should prompt the viewer not to analyse but feel, a film starring Ethan Hawke, Kristin Scott Thomas and Joanna Kulig and a Parisian tale with psychological nuances
Paweł Pawlikowski’s The Woman in the Fifth is story about a troubled man who is lost and internally broken. The film shows him at a turning point of his life. Tom Ricks, played by Ethan Hawke, is an American academic and failed writer who recently lost his job and has been unable to finish his second novel. His wife, played by Delphine Chuillot, left him and moved to Paris. Tom decides to travel to France to win back his estranged wife and six-year-old daughter. He wants to get back on his feet and write the long awaited second novel. But things start turning against him: his wife sends the police on him, his luggage is stolen on a bus. He ends up in a motel on the outskirts of the city. Here he meets a Polish receptionist, played by Joanna Kulig and he crosses paths with the infamous Woman in the Fifth - Kristin Scott Thomas playing the widow of a Hungarian writer, who he becomes obsessed with.
"The protagonist is his own enemy", Paweł Pawlikowski, the film’s Polish born director who grew up in the UK talks about The Woman in the Fifth, "I wanted to tell the story of a man who is falling apart, who is facing an internal conflict. The story of a human […] who wants to create, wants to be loved, wants to be a husband and father. But the problem is that anything he starts, he cannot finish. And he can’t make his mind up about anything". Tom’s world breaks into pieces in front of our eyes. He gets lost in his own fantasies and obsessions, turning to women as his only relief. Pawlikowski, drawing on clichés of the patriarchic society shows women as providing comfort and solace to men, they symbolise order and harmony. Tom’s wife represents a lost paradise, the mysterious femme fatale is unreachable and challenging, she fulfills his fetishist needs and gives him support in his writing. The Polish receptionist on the other hand is warm and caring.
"The Woman in the Fifth is a film of many meanings", Pawlikowski adds, "it’s not to be analysed but felt. Let the viewer switch off his rational brain for a moment and feel the movie as if he were listening to music". The movie is loosely adapted from Douglas Kennedy’s novel of the same title. While Kennedy’s book is truly a thriller, bringing it to the screen, Pawlikowski gave it a psychological edge. His characters are mysterious and secretive, leaving room for uncertainty. "My stupid ambition", Pawlikowski says in an interview with The Telegraph's David Gritten, "is to make a film that’s not like any other – one that has its own kind of logic, and hooks viewers without making them think too much. It’s a film I’d love to see, one in which after 10 minutes the audience isn’t able to predict the whole thing". "But nothing in the story is quite what it seems", the journalist comments - "Writer-director Pawlikowski keeps us guessing, even beyond the ending of this tantalising film. It haunts the memory the next day. To say more would ruin the experience".
Slant Magazine's Chris Cabin comments on the filmmaker’s personal circumstances during the making of The Woman….The film was made shortly after the tragic death of his wife. Cabin calls it "the return of a formidable yet oddly modest director from the pits of a personal hell that can only be echoed in the haunting rhythms of this brilliantly edited, astonishingly assured thriller". Critics have also pointed to the splendid cinematography, the work of the director’s regular, Ryszard Lenczewski. The images avoid Paris postcard scenes showing instead unusual, rarely filmed location. "Pawlikowski also succeeds in blending his usual visual preoccupations (insects and nature) with a uniquely dour, itchy view of the City of Lights" Cabin adds.
The Woman in the Fifth, Great Britain, France 2011. Director: Paweł Pawlikowski, screenplay: Paweł Pawlikowski, Douglas Kennedy, cinematography: Ryszard Lenczewski, music: Max de Wardener, scenography: Benoît Barouh, costumes: Julian Day, editing: David Charap, Elsa Fernández, sound: Nicolas Cantin. Cast: Ethan Hawke(Tom Ricks), Kristin Scott Thomas (Margit), Joanna Kulig (Ania), Samir Guesmi (Sezer), Delphine Chuillot (Nathalie), Julie Papillon (Chloé). Distribution: SPI International Polska Sp. z o.o. 83 min. In Polish cinemas as of September 28th 2012.
Thumbnail credit: Joanna Kulig and Ethan Hawke in Paweł Pawlikowski's The Woman in the Fifth, photo: Jean-Claude Lother / SPI International Polska
Sources: culture.pl, Telegraph review, SlantMagazine, the Guardian, Telegraph interview
Author: Marta Jazowska
the woman in the fifth