Ismael's Ghosts (Les fantômes d'Ismaël)

Critics Consensus

Ismael's Ghosts unites an excellent cast -- and their valiant efforts are often enough to counter its somewhat confused and disjointed story.



Reviews Counted: 70

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Average Rating: 2.3/5

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Movie Info

Twenty-one years ago, she ran away. And twenty-one years later, Carlotta (Marion Cotillard) is back from the void. But Ismael (Mathieu Amalric) has been busy rebuilding a life for himself with Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and working on his next feature film. As Ismael's trials and tribulations unfurl, so too do those of his film's protagonist: 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 more 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.

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Critic Reviews for Ismael's Ghosts (Les fantômes d'Ismaël)

All Critics (70) | Top Critics (19)

It's all very artfully done, with plenty of inventive camera work by Irina Lubtchansky. But I found it unsatisfying, even as a slice of life; it seemed more of a julienne.

Apr 20, 2018 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

There are moments in this movie that are richer than anything you can possibly see in a movie theater this month, scenes that will fill you with awe.

Apr 18, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

It's true that, even on a more complete viewing, not everything in "Ismael's Ghosts" coheres. If it did, I suspect the movie would not feel quite so alive.

Apr 5, 2018 | Full Review…

As Ismael, Almaric grounds the unwieldy film...delivering an incisive performance that imbues his subtlest gestures with searing turmoil.

Apr 4, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Desplechin mines his earlier films and his cultural obsessions for a formidable trove of narrative complications, which he flings into the script with admirable abandon but without directorial audacity to match.

Mar 26, 2018 | Full Review…

There's one scene -- in which Cotillard dances alone to Bob Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" while Gainsbourg looks on quietly -- that might have you begging for the earth to open up and swallow you whole.

Mar 23, 2018 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
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