Cert: TBC Runtime: 114 mins Director: Arnaud Desplechin Cast: Mathieu Amalric, Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Louis Garrel and Alba Rohrwacher
The opening film for the 70th Cannes Film Festival had to be French. Along with two colossal French actors hopes were high for Ismael’s Ghost. What is it about? Ismaël Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric) makes films. He is in the middle of one about Ivan (Louis Garrel), an atypical diplomat inspired by his brother. Along with Bloom, his master and father-in-law, Ismaël still mourns the death of Carlotta (Marion Cotillard), twenty years earlier. Yet he has started his life over again with Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Sylvia is his light. Then Carlotta returns from the dead. Sylvia runs away. Ismaël rejects Carlotta. Driven mad by these ordeals, he abandons the shoot for his family home in Roubaix. There, he lives as a recluse, besieged by his ghosts.
The screenplay for Ismael’s Ghost is very choppy. What seems to be an intelligent multi-layered story highlighting the many aspects in the life of a film maker, is basically subplots going nowhere. It’s a well-acted drama, exploring the way the husband, his girlfriend and his long lost wife cope with this new situation. The viewer is offered a myriad of increasingly complicated side-stories, flash backs and dream-like sequences, culminating in a laughable scene of the tormented film maker shooting his own executive producer by accident. I have no doubt this film tries to make a point, but I’m afraid only the director knows which one. But it has stuck in my head and that makes me happy.