The story follows a filmmaker whose life is sent into a tailspin by the return of a former lover just as he is about to embark on the shoot of a new film.


Arnaud Desplechin


Arnaud Desplechin (scenario & dialogue), Julie Peyr (scenario & dialogue) | 1 more credit »
7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Mathieu Amalric ... Ismaël Vuillard
Marion Cotillard ... Carlotta Bloom
Charlotte Gainsbourg ... Sylvia
Louis Garrel ... Ivan Dedalus
Alba Rohrwacher ... Arielle / Faunia
László Szabó ... Henri Bloom
Hippolyte Girardot ... Zwy
Jacques Nolot ... Claverie
Catherine Mouchet ... Le médecin soins intensifs
Samir Guesmi ... Le médecin
Mélodie Richard ... Hôtesse de l'air
Marc Prin Marc Prin ... Jacques (Diplomate 1)
Bruno Todeschini ... Responsable sécurité Tadjikistan
Pascal Ternisien Pascal Ternisien ... Robert (Diplomate 2)
Philippe Fretun Philippe Fretun ... Mathieu (Diplomate 3)


Having run away twenty-one years ago, Carlotta (Marion Cotillard) is back out of the blue. Ismael (Mathieu Amalric) has been busy rebuilding a life for himself next to Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) while working on his next feature film. As Ismael's trials and tribulations unfurl, so do those of the main character of his film: the idle, funny and reckless diplomat Ivan Dédalus (Louis Garrel). The character is a nod to the ghost of another of Desplechin's creations, the brother of Paul Dédalus, three-time hero of "My Sex Life - or How I Got Into an Argument," "A Christmas Tale" and "My Golden Days." A film within a film - and then some, Desplechin layers narrative upon narrative. With ISMAEL'S GHOSTS, Desplechin returns once again to the past, creating film after film as his way of stepping back in time, and proving yet again that his brand of genius lies in his ability to find light in the darkest of places. Written by Magnolia Pictures

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality including some graphic nudity, language, and brief strong violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This is Marion Cotillard and Louis Garrel's second film together. The first was From the Land of the Moon (2016). See more »


References Vertigo (1958) See more »


It Ain't Me Babe
Written by Bob Dylan (uncredited)
Performed by Bob Dylan
See more »

User Reviews

What a waste of acting and creative talent...
21 May 2018 | by paul-allaerSee all my reviews

"Ismael's Ghosts" (2017 release from France; 135 min.; original title "Les Fantômes d'Ismaël" ) brings the story of Ismael. As the movie opens, we follow the conversation among several bureaucrats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the mysterious disappearance of a certain Ivan Dedalus, who had just started his career there. As it turns out this story is being developed in the mind of Ismael, a film maker. We get to know Ismael, as he carries on with his girlfriend Sylvie. We learn that Ismael's wife Carlotta, who mysteriously disappeared 20 years ago, and Ismael had her officially listed as "missing". Then one day at the beach, Sylvie runs into a woman she thinks is Carlotta... IS it the real Carlotta? how will this affect Ismael? and what about the movie-within-the-movie? At this point we are less than 15 minutes into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from director (and co-writer) Arnaud Desplechin, whose previous movie was the likable "Golden Days" (original title "Trois Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse"). Here, Desplechin rides several parallel story lines: the complicated life and relationships of Ismael, whether or not the real Carlotta has come back, and the movie-within-the-movie. It should make for an appealing mix, but alas, you might be wrong. First of all, I just don't "get" the point" of the movie-within-the-movie, which simply doesn't seem to have any connection with the real movie--and if it does, I completely missed it. Second, the relationships that play out between the three main characters never came across as genuine or believable. And that is a darn shame for Charlotte Gainsbourg (whom I otherwise absolutely adore) in the role of Sylvie, Marion Cotillard as Carlotta, and Mathieu Amalric as Ismael. I mean, those are top notch names, but even they cannot save this movie. Bottom line: "Ismael's Ghosts" is a giant waste of acting and creative talent.

"Ismeal's Ghosts" premiered at last year's Cannes film festival, to ho-hum acclaim. Almost to the day a year later, the movie opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. Truthfully, if it weren't for the fact that this stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, I doubt I would've gone to see it. As it was, the Monday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (3 people, including myself), and I cannot see this playing longer than one week in the theater (at least here in Cincinnati). I encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater (not very likely at this point), on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.

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French | Hebrew

Release Date:

23 March 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ismael's Ghosts See more »

Filming Locations:

Roubaix, Nord, France See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$19,158, 25 March 2018

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (director's cut)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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