It’s a shame that The Woman in the Fifth fell-through. The first 3/4 or so seemed promising, building up to lead to an exquisite revelation. In the end though the tale leaves many scenes unexplained and unnecessary. Ethan Hawke plays the lead, author and down-and-out father Tom Ricks, amazingly well. In his support are a range of characters and well executed directing and cinematographic stylings.
I completely get the film’s opening, handing the audience an unstable man who has done “something” in his past for which his wife needs a restraining order and would explain his inability to hold down a job or write more than one book. We are never let into this destructive past behavior. In a loose comparison, the antiheroes of The Science of Sleep or Fight Club provide a similar construct. Yet they leave audiences better informed and fulfilled with the conclusions. The Woman in the Fifth imparts confusion, perhaps mirroring Tom Ricks. We are offered no explanation to the past or future, just given a chunk of mind-numbingly strange present. An unfortunate artistic choice that is completely unsatisfying.