by Debra Ollivier
“I love the idea of playing a mysterious fantasy who’s a mother, lover, and muse-type character,” said Kristin Scott Thomas of her role in the recently released movie “The Woman in the Fifth.” “Mysterious” is something of an understatement.
In the film by director Pawel Pawlikowski, Scott Thomas plays Margit, a beautiful widow who seduces American writer Tom Ricks (Ethan Hawkes), a younger man who’s moved to Paris to reunite with his estranged daughter. Margit establishes a set of rules for their encounters: she will only see him in her apartment in the 5th arrondissement, at 5 p.m. sharp, twice a week, and he must not ask any questions about her work or past. (Spoiler alert: If you plan to see the film you may want to stop reading here.)
When people around him suddenly start dying, Tom begins to believe that a dark force has entered his life. After the police accuse him of murdering his neighbor, Tom tries to use his weekly visits to Margit’s apartment as an alibi, only to find out that she hasn’t lived at this address for the past 15 years.
Scott Thomas’ role is yet another epic performance from an actress who’s known for her nuanced and beguiling emotional intensity. Born in England, Scott Thomas has spent most of her life in France working for European directors, garnering rapturous reviews and accolades along the way. She’s best known for her Oscar-nominated role as Katherine Clifton in “The English Patient” and Fiona in “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” In France, she has played a greater range of parts, including the raw and riveting role, sans make-up, of a woman trying to re-establish her life after spending 15 years in prison in “I’ve Loved You So Long.”
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