A college lecturer flees to Paris after a scandal costs him his job. In the City of Light, he meets a widow who might be involved in a series of murders.


Pawel Pawlikowski


Douglas Kennedy (novel), Pawel Pawlikowski (screenplay)
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Ethan Hawke ... Tom Ricks
Kristin Scott Thomas ... Margit
Joanna Kulig ... Ania
Samir Guesmi ... Sezer
Delphine Chuillot ... Nathalie
Julie Papillon Julie Papillon ... Chloé
Geoffrey Carey Geoffrey Carey ... Laurent
Mamadou Minte Mamadou Minte ... Omar
Mohamed Aroussi Mohamed Aroussi ... Moussa
Jean-Louis Cassarino Jean-Louis Cassarino ... Dumont
Judith Burnett Judith Burnett ... Lorraine L'herbert
Marcela Iacub Marcela Iacub ... Isabella
Wilfred Benaïche Wilfred Benaïche ... Lieutenand Coutard
Pierre Marcoux Pierre Marcoux ... Lawyer
Rosine Favey Rosine Favey ... Lawyer's Translator


American writer Tom Ricks (Ethan Hawke) comes to Paris desperate to put his life together again and win back the love of his estranged wife and daughter. When things don't go according to plan, he ends up in a shady hotel in the suburbs, having to work as a night guard to make ends meet. Then Margit (Dame Kristin Scott Thomas), a beautiful, mysterious stranger walks into his life and things start looking up. Their passionate and intense relationship triggers a string of inexplicable events, as if an obscure power was taking control of his life.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


What is her secret? See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexual content, language and violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Featured in The Big Picture: February 2012 (2012) See more »


Written by Julian Tuwim
Performed bz Ewa Demarczyk
See more »

User Reviews

Forget any Explanation and Simply Enjoy (or not)
3 January 2013 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

The American professor of literature and novelist Tom Hicks (Ethan Hawke) travels to Paris to see his beloved daughter Chloé (Julie Papillon) that lives with her mother Nathalie (Delphine Chuillot). However, Nathalie uses the restraining order to call the police and avoid letting Tom to meet Chloé.

Tom flees from the police and takes a bus but he is tired and sleeps. When he awakes in a poor neighborhood, he finds that his luggage and money were robbed. He goes to a bar and the Polish waitress Ania (Joanna Kulig) brings a coffee for him. He asks for a room and explains that he had been robbed and she asks him to talk with the owner Sezer (Samir Guesmi) that allows him to stay in a very low budget room and pay him later. Then Sezer offers a job of night watchman in a suspect building.

One day, Tom goes to a bookstore and is invited to a party with writers where he meets Margit Kadar (Kristin Scott Thomas), who is a translator and widow of a Hungarian writer. She gives her address and telephone to Tom. Soon Tom has a love affair with Margit at her apartment and with Ania on the roof of the bar. But Tom is also obsessed by his daughter, snooping around Chloé during the days. When his next door neighbor at the hotel that is blackmailing Tom is found dead, his only alibi is Margit. But when the police officers go to her place, they discover that she had committed suicide many years ago.

"La femme du Vème" is one of those movies like "Triangle" where there is no explanation for bizarre and surrealistic situations. I am not sure whether the director Pawel Pawlikowski had this intention or not, but forget any explanation about the plot and simply enjoy (or not) the movie.

David Lynch is the master of this style while Claude Chabrol was the French master of thrillers with open endings to make the viewer think and discuss possibilities. But this is the practically unknown Pawel Pawlikowski and I was disappointed with the lack of conclusion of the good plot. But as an unconditional fan of Kristin Scott Thomas and Ethan Hawke, I do not regret this strange experience. My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "Estranha Obsessão" ("Weird Obsession")

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Official Sites:

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France | Poland | UK


English | French | Polish

Release Date:

16 November 2011 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

La femme du Vème See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$33,011, 17 June 2012

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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