6.0/10
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72 user 38 critic

City of Ghosts (2002)

A con man (Matt Dillon) travels to Cambodia (also on the run from law enforcement in the U.S.) to collect his share in an insurance scam, but discovers more than he bargained for.

Director:

Matt Dillon
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Dillon ... Jimmy
James Caan ... Marvin
Natascha McElhone ... Sophie
Gérard Depardieu ... Emile (as Gerard Depardieu)
Kem Sereyvuth Kem Sereyvuth ... Sok (as Sereyvuth Kem)
Stellan Skarsgård ... Joseph Kaspar
Rose Byrne ... Sabrina
Shawn Andrews ... Robbie
Chalee Sankhavesa Chalee Sankhavesa ... Sideth
Christopher Curry ... Larry Luckman
Rob Campbell ... Simon (as Robert Campbell)
Bernard Merklen Bernard Merklen ... Gerard
Jack Shearer ... FBI Agent Burden
Kirk Fox ... FBI Agent Philips
Kyoza Kyoza ... Rocky
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Storyline

A con man flees to Southeast Asia when an international scam he was involved in goes sour. Suspecting he's been double-crossed by his long-time mentor, he sets off to Cambodia for his promised cut. What he finds there is a mysterious and hostile environment where even the most polished criminal can end up on deadly ground. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

where you go when you can't turn back. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violence | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The black Mercedes-Benz, appearing in the movie, was built in 1973, and was formerly owned by the infamous leader of the Khmer Rogue, Pol Pot. See more »

Goofs

Towards the end of the movie Jimmy is lying in the back seat of the cab with a red shirt covering his face. The cab driver wakes him up and Jimmy exits the cab and puts on a green shirt. See more »

Quotes

Marvin: [first time he interacts with Jimmy] Hey Jimmy-boy! It's good to see you.
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Crazy Credits

Thanks to the People of Cambodia. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

Breu Peyney
Traditional
Arranged and Performed by Musicians of the National Dance Company of Cambodia
Courtesy of Real World Records
By Arrangement with Lipservices
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User Reviews

 
Matt Dillon's directorial debut is a film noir of intrigue and sentiments - "Both Sides Now" in a Cambodian setting, with strong cast: Caan, Depardieu, Skarsgård
15 June 2003 | by ruby_fffSee all my reviews

"City of Ghosts" works like a film noir suspense thriller, Dillon and co-writer Barry Gifford also layered human drama into the mix. Gifford wrote the novel "Wild At Heart" 1990, which David Lynch adapted and directed; he also co-scripted with Lynch on "Lost Highway" 1997. No wonder I felt some (Twin Peaks-like) Lynch atmosphere when Caan and Skarsgård were at some remote location - kinda eerie and sinister with the camera approach suggesting foreboding elements a-lurking.

I like the film right from the start - intrigue is established in the prologue: the TV news, the simple and brief office scenes - within minutes we are given the backdrop to the story yet to unfold. We are following a mystery, right beside Dillon's character, Jimmy. We landed in Cambodia in no time. Good or evil, the enchantment starts.

It's wonderful to see the down to earth cyclo driver Sok, portrayed by local Cambodian Kem Sereyvuth - how the friendship between him and Jimmy evolved, developed, matured. Then there's Skarsgård, bringing some of his "Insomnia" insecurity aura with him, is the doubtful associate Kaspar. Should you, could you, trust or depend on him? Ah, Gérard Depardieu's Emile, one slick (business man) dual bar and hotel owner, who can handle baby, monkey, clients and hooligans all at the same time. It's one juicy role for Depardieu without even having to dress up - in the most casual of manners, he inhabited this man in subtle strokes of flamboyance. We get chuckles and humorous relief whenever we're with him.

James Caan, the veteran thespian, in his elements again. His character Marvin is a mix of "The Yard," "Mickey Blue Eyes," "Leaving Las Vegas," "The Way of the Gun," and "Godfather" savvy and then some. Is he a mentor cum father-figure who's protective of Jimmy, or could he be the disappearing real father to Jimmy? Contradictions, confusing sentiments, Jimmy has to sort out. Yes, love inherently beckons. Natascha McElhone provides that niche of an important ingredient to living - Jimmy is discovering himself and learning what's important in life through this journey. 'Both Sides Now' he's experienced, and yes, he may 'really don't know life at all' after all, but we have a clear blue sky shot with clouds - listening to Joni Mitchell's song, it almost seems like the film was plotted with her lyrics in mind. The song sung in Asian language gives a heartwarming hopeful feeling as the credits rolled.

Cinematographer Jim Denault seems to be a favorite with women Indie filmmakers - Patricia Cardoso: "Real Women Have Curves" 2002, Katherine Diekmann: "A Good Baby" 2000, Kimberly Peirce: "Boys Don't Cry" 1999, Jill Sprecher: "Clockwatchers" 1997. "City of Ghosts" must be a rewarding experience for him to shoot on location at Cambodia and Thailand, besides Canada and New York.

Bravo to Matt Dillon's persistence (6 years) in realizing this first film. MGM and United Artists were behind the production and distribution of the film. The official site provides interesting production notes.

John Malkovich's directorial debut "The Dancer Upstairs" came out the same weekend as Dillon's. "City of Ghosts" is more entertaining per se. Malkovich's film, in a way, is more cerebral with political tone; Javier Badem effectively portrays the empathetic police detective Augustin, who's a romantic at heart.


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Details

Official Sites:

United Artists

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Khmer | Russian

Release Date:

27 March 2003 (Israel) See more »

Also Known As:

Beneath the Banyan Trees See more »

Filming Locations:

Cambodia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$17,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$30,547, 27 April 2003

Gross USA:

$357,197

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,277,187
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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