Ismaël’s Ghosts review – self-indulgent French drama

Arnaud Desplechin’s disappearance mystery ruins a promising start with tedious, wordy excess

Screenwriter Ismaël (Mathieu Amalric) is still scarred by the disappearance of his wife 20 years before. But he has finally moved on with a relationship with astrophysicist Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Everything changes, however, when his wife, Carlotta (Marion Cotillard), turns up on the beach next to his summer house.

Like one of the thin-skinned, self-sabotaging protagonists that inhabit his films, director Arnaud Desplechin takes a promising premise and turns it into a spiralling vortex of shouty navel-gazing. A device that sees scenes from Ismaël’s screenplay – about his brother who may or may not be a spy – inserted into the story is just one of the indulgences that makes the two hour-plus running time feel like an interminable slog.

Contributor

Wendy Ide

The GuardianTramp

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