The Woman in the Fifth

Is there a category for "head scratcher?" "La femme du Vème" is a brooding suspense thriller which takes place in Paris' 5th arrondissement (a political division in a French city).

This French/UK entry (English captions) to the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival offers plenty of suspense, enough thrills (for ME!) and we walked out scratching our heads. What more can we want?

We watched:
  • Ethan Hawke ("Sinister") as an American author who arrives in Paris eager to see his six-year-old daughter. After her mother stridently objects (she calls the police!), he leaves and, because he's jet-lagged, wearily gets on a bus. At the end of the line someone awakens him and he discovers he has been robbed. With no money and no luggage, he is in a very awkward spot.
  • Samir Guesmi ("Tell No One") is the owner of a seedy, rundown hotel/bar where he offers our hero a room and board in exchange for a suspicious job. Our guy has to relinquish his passport to get the job.
  • Joanna Kulig ("Elles") is the barmaid in that seedy joint where our guy lives.
  • Kristen Scott Thomas ("Salmon Fishing in the Yemen") is a mysterious woman who lives in the 5th arrondissement. Our hero meets her at a literary party (she translates books for authors) and she is forthright in her invitation to drop by.
This film is beautifully shot, faces are lovingly examined, the Paris under- belly is graphically recorded, and for some reason, we saw many close- ups of odd insects on trees in a nearby park. We were all talking as we left the theater trying to discover what each person thought had hap- pened.