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.
Mathias, whose dead father was a diplomat in Germany, decides to study the forensic medicine in Paris. In the train, he has some troubles with the border police, and is insulted and ... See full summary »
Thibault de Montalembert,
The scene is set one Summer in La Ciotat, a town near Marseille which used to be prosperous thanks to its huge dockyard but has been in decline since its closing 25 years before. It is in ... See full summary »
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
As many have said, the premise of this film is very good, but it is lost in a mess of structure that would shame must university film society. It is a number of stories within a story, which lose momentum as the film continues. The main plot is the sudden reappearance of a film maker's wife after an absence of 21 years, but this is submerged by unnecessary interludes.
I watched the film at the French Film Festival in Sydney, and throughout the film people trickled out, not returning. What kept me was the excellent acting as ever from Cotillard and Gainsbourg, but you honestly wonder why and how they signed up for such a messy screenplay.
If this film was a blind date, it would talk erratically at you for nearly two hours, then leave abruptly for no reason. Avoid.
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