Tom Ricks (Ethan Hawk) is a writer who travels to Paris with the hope of reconnecting with his estranged wife and daughter. His wife wants nothing to do with him and tells him to leave them alone. It’s clear something serious happened between them because she feels threatened enough to call the cops on him, but you never find out what exactly went down. In fact, you never find out much about anything in this film. Ricks is robbed on the bus and resorts to living in a room above a café, and in order to pay rent he plays night watch man for a building that screams “place where people are murdered!”, but, again, you never find out what goes on there. He also has sex with any woman he spends more than five minutes with, which include his boss/landlord’s girlfriend and Kristen Scott Thomas’ Margit. Suddenly, unexpected things begin happening around Ricks, forcing him to quest his own sanity and Margot’s involvement in all of it. It’s almost as if they said to themselves, now we need a mind blowing twist and didn’t pay attention to the fact that nothing earlier in the film leads up to this ending.
The film yearns to be mysterious but never truly earns it. The filmmaker clearly believes that in order to build a sense of intrigue, you must withhold all information about what’s going on from the audience. Promises are made to the audience that are not kept by the filmmaker. To introduce a character with a dark secret and then never reveal it is not fair to those who a have just invested 90 minutes of their time to this film. The pacing also keeps the audience from becoming truly invested because it takes a hour for anything of interest to happen.
One thing that stood out to me in this film was the sound mixing. Sadly, sound mixing is one of those elements that you only really notice when it’s done poorly. Every time anyone walks in this film it’s thunderous. It’s like everyone is stomping around on wood and marble floors in the world’s loudest boots. It’s so distracting! Also, whenever Ethan Hawk speaks French, he sounds like he’s doing his best Christian Bale “I’m Batman” impression.
What’s sad about this film is that everyone in the cast does the best with what they’re given. Hawk does a fine job of portraying a man on the edge, we just don’t know why Ricks’ is such a mess. Kristen Scott Thomas is very alluring as Margit and could have been a really compelling temptress if given better material. In fact, the whole film could have been saved with proper tweeking, but instead the audience is left confused at what they have just seen.