Irish Film Institute -THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH



85 minutes, France-Poland-U.K., 2011, Colour, D-Cinema

That’s the fifth arrondissement, of course, the Latin Quarter in Paris. This is home to the ever-seductive Kristin Scott Thomas, who’s soon looming large in the desires of visiting American novelist Ethan Hawke as director Pawel Pawlikowski’s mystery thriller unfolds.

After two successful forays into British naturalism with Last Resort (2000) and My Summer of Love (2004), the Polish director obviously decided on a change of pace, hence this teasing adaptation of Douglas Kennedy’s 2007 novel, in which marital discord and underworld threat add a noir-ish element to the ostensibly familiar saga of a shambling writer in search of inspiration.

Hawke retains our sympathies throughout, even as the protagonist’s questionable decision-making begins to tell, his performance essentially grounding the film, which begins like a genre exercise and ends somewhere else entirely. While such playfulness is certainly new from Pawlikowski, Scott Thomas, needless to say, rises to the challenge, spiky and imperious in a role whose precise nature you are encouraged not to reveal. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

This screening will include the IFB-funded short film Headspace directed by Patrick Semple. A boy distances himself from reality in an effort to cope with a cycle of abuse. 6 minutes, 2010, Colour, Animation.

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