Parallel storylines tell the current state of affairs for two ex-lovers: Nora's a single mother who comes to care for her terminally ill father; holed in up in mental ward, Ismael, a brilliant musician, plots his escape.
In 1950s France, Gabrielle is a passionate, free-spirited woman who is in a loveless marriage and falls for another man when she is sent away to the Alps to treat her kidney stones. Gabrielle yearns to free herself and run away with André.
Paul is preparing to leave Tajikistan, while thinking back on his adolescent years. His childhood, his mother's madness, the parties, the trip to the USSR where he lost his virginity, the friend who betrayed him and the love of his life.
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
I saw this film up in Cambridge, with a sophisticated crowd and more than half the audience walked out.
I am all for narrative complexity, but pretentiousness and complexity for the sake of complexity is artificial and pompous.
I think the only people who like this film are self conscious lowbrow audience that simply assumes its convolution has some meaning that escaped them, or that throwing in disjointed and out of place ad frankly random surreal elements is somehow a good onto itself.
In the end, despite recruitment of solid acting talent, this is just an amazingly bad film.
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