Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle Of Dogs’ Bow-Wows Solidly; ‘The Death of Stalin’ Crosses $2M: Specialty Box Office

UPDATED at 12:30PM PT with more numbers and analysis. Wes Anderson‘s stop-motion-animated Isle Of Dogs opened via Fox Searchlight in 27 theaters, grossing $1.57M and averaging $58,148, tops for any 2018 opener to date despite being the widest-ever Anderson opener.
The film, which had its world premiere last month in Berlin, has caused ripples of controversy in some quarters for its depiction of Japanese culture, though critics have largely sparked to it. The film will…

UPDATED at 12:30PM PT with more numbers and analysis. Wes Anderson's stop-motion-animated Isle Of Dogs opened via Fox Searchlight in 27 theaters, grossing $1.57M and averaging $58,148, tops for any 2018 opener to date despite being the widest-ever Anderson opener. The film, which had its world premiere last month in Berlin, has caused ripples of controversy in some quarters for its depiction of Japanese culture, though critics have largely sparked to it. The film will…

‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Film Review: Marion Cotillard Haunts Fascinating Psychological Drama

It’s not just that the woman (Marion Cotillard) goes missing for 21 years — registered as “absent” yet presumed dead — only to return and subsequently announce to a social services worker, “My name is Carlotta Bloom, and I’m back.” It’s not just that she’s named Carlotta, with all the “Vertigo” signaling that entails (there’s even a portrait of Carlotta for those keeping track).

And it’s not just that she’s maddeningly opaque and slow to explain herself to her husband Ismael Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric) and his partner Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg), or even to reveal herself as still alive to her long-grieving father Henri (Godard regular László Szabó). It’s that in spite of the disruption of her return, she might not be the most pressing bit of information complicating Ismael’s life. She might not even be real.

Ambiguous, criss-crossing identity, both personal and cinematic, is the fragile underpinning of the impeccably messy “Ismael’s Ghosts,” French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin’s latest — this U.S. release re-edited and extended by 20 minutes after a shorter version’s premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival — and by the time Cotillard performs a strange, clunky, and thematically appropriate dance to Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” it becomes clear that nothing is clear except Desplechin’s commitment to a mad pastiche of his own design.

Also Read: Cesar Awards Name “BPM” the Year’s Best French Film

Carlotta, for all the chaos she brings, is only one element of the storm brewing in “Ghosts,” and Cotillard’s arrested-development performance allows her to recede when Desplechin decides to make complicated narrative moves. Coinciding with Carlotta’s apparent resurrection, Ismael, a filmmaker himself, becomes creatively blocked and disturbed by nightmares, recalling Federico Fellini’s “8 ½”. He’s working on a Cold War espionage movie, one starring Louis Garrel as an oddball spy with a habit of taking naps to avoid his own chronic bad dreams, and production has ground to a halt.

Garrell’s character, Ivan Dedalus, will ring a narrative bell with attentive audiences: the character of Paul Dedalus in Desplechin’s 2015 film “My Golden Years” was also suspected of being a Russian spy, and the Dedalus and Vuillard family names wind their way through many of the director’s projects, with Amalric often playing recurring roles, including that of Ismael in 2004’s “Kings & Queen.”

In the latter half of “Ghosts,” Garrel shows up as someone else, Ismael’s estranged brother, who is also named Ivan. When informed of Ismael’s disappearance from his own set and Ivan’s involuntary role in the film’s plot, the weary sibling winks at Desplechin’s tendency to saddle his fictional Dedalus and Vuillard clans with fresh trouble every time the cameras roll and remarks, “Is my brother ridiculing our family again? Whose turn is it this time?”

Also Read: Hubert de Givenchy, Fashion Icon Who Created Audrey Hepburn’s ‘Little Black Dress,’ Dies at 91

Hallucinations take over Ismael’s waking life; characters leave and then return; an adopted son mentioned by Ismael never materializes; religious metaphors bounce around and then settle in, undeveloped; theories of psychoanalysis ground conversations about the nature of reality and mirrored selves; the advent of visual perspective in classical painting gets thrown in there, too. Why not?

Amalric, Desplechin’s go-to central figure in film after film, is instantly comfortable as his disheveled-with-cigarettes avatar, a sympathetic near-parody of midlife failure, the easily spotted, self-centered artist whose uncertainty might destroy him. We root for him because not to probably means certain collapse.

Not that Desplechin is especially tender with his protagonist or all that concerned with his well-being. If having a possibly literal ghost arrive to ruin Ismael’s life weren’t enough, Desplechin’s physical practice of filmmaking — dissolves within scenes, characters breaking the fourth wall, expanding and contracting iris shots that frame action in black voids, black-and-white rear projections, close-ups that linger longer than comfort would recommend — works hard toward compounding Ismael’s and the audience’s sense of disorientation. This is filmmaking that demands to be noticed, if not always trusted.

Also Read: Catherine Deneuve Apologizes for Criticizing #MeToo Movement

And in the end, there might not be any real ghosts. Carlotta may just have a conveniently evocative name and poor timing. Ismael’s breakdown may just be too much booze, insomnia, and guilt. Reality may just be what it appears to be.

But more likely it’s true that Desplechin is here to remind us that all readings are subjective, that stories end differently depending on who’s doing the telling and who’s doing the listening. At one point, Ismael is accused of directing films in a way that puts him “all over the screen,” in spite of his protestations that his “job is to disappear,” to be an objective observer.

Of course, there’s no such thing. Desplechin delivers a raft of unreliable narrators, both real and imagined, to tangle you up in knots, and in doing so cops to it himself.



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It’s not just that the woman (Marion Cotillard) goes missing for 21 years — registered as “absent” yet presumed dead — only to return and subsequently announce to a social services worker, “My name is Carlotta Bloom, and I’m back.” It’s not just that she’s named Carlotta, with all the “Vertigo” signaling that entails (there’s even a portrait of Carlotta for those keeping track).

And it’s not just that she’s maddeningly opaque and slow to explain herself to her husband Ismael Vuillard (Mathieu Amalric) and his partner Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg), or even to reveal herself as still alive to her long-grieving father Henri (Godard regular László Szabó). It’s that in spite of the disruption of her return, she might not be the most pressing bit of information complicating Ismael’s life. She might not even be real.

Ambiguous, criss-crossing identity, both personal and cinematic, is the fragile underpinning of the impeccably messy “Ismael’s Ghosts,” French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin’s latest — this U.S. release re-edited and extended by 20 minutes after a shorter version’s premiere at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival — and by the time Cotillard performs a strange, clunky, and thematically appropriate dance to Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe,” it becomes clear that nothing is clear except Desplechin’s commitment to a mad pastiche of his own design.

Carlotta, for all the chaos she brings, is only one element of the storm brewing in “Ghosts,” and Cotillard’s arrested-development performance allows her to recede when Desplechin decides to make complicated narrative moves. Coinciding with Carlotta’s apparent resurrection, Ismael, a filmmaker himself, becomes creatively blocked and disturbed by nightmares, recalling Federico Fellini’s “8 ½”. He’s working on a Cold War espionage movie, one starring Louis Garrel as an oddball spy with a habit of taking naps to avoid his own chronic bad dreams, and production has ground to a halt.

Garrell’s character, Ivan Dedalus, will ring a narrative bell with attentive audiences: the character of Paul Dedalus in Desplechin’s 2015 film “My Golden Years” was also suspected of being a Russian spy, and the Dedalus and Vuillard family names wind their way through many of the director’s projects, with Amalric often playing recurring roles, including that of Ismael in 2004’s “Kings & Queen.”

In the latter half of “Ghosts,” Garrel shows up as someone else, Ismael’s estranged brother, who is also named Ivan. When informed of Ismael’s disappearance from his own set and Ivan’s involuntary role in the film’s plot, the weary sibling winks at Desplechin’s tendency to saddle his fictional Dedalus and Vuillard clans with fresh trouble every time the cameras roll and remarks, “Is my brother ridiculing our family again? Whose turn is it this time?”

Hallucinations take over Ismael’s waking life; characters leave and then return; an adopted son mentioned by Ismael never materializes; religious metaphors bounce around and then settle in, undeveloped; theories of psychoanalysis ground conversations about the nature of reality and mirrored selves; the advent of visual perspective in classical painting gets thrown in there, too. Why not?

Amalric, Desplechin’s go-to central figure in film after film, is instantly comfortable as his disheveled-with-cigarettes avatar, a sympathetic near-parody of midlife failure, the easily spotted, self-centered artist whose uncertainty might destroy him. We root for him because not to probably means certain collapse.

Not that Desplechin is especially tender with his protagonist or all that concerned with his well-being. If having a possibly literal ghost arrive to ruin Ismael’s life weren’t enough, Desplechin’s physical practice of filmmaking — dissolves within scenes, characters breaking the fourth wall, expanding and contracting iris shots that frame action in black voids, black-and-white rear projections, close-ups that linger longer than comfort would recommend — works hard toward compounding Ismael’s and the audience’s sense of disorientation. This is filmmaking that demands to be noticed, if not always trusted.

And in the end, there might not be any real ghosts. Carlotta may just have a conveniently evocative name and poor timing. Ismael’s breakdown may just be too much booze, insomnia, and guilt. Reality may just be what it appears to be.

But more likely it’s true that Desplechin is here to remind us that all readings are subjective, that stories end differently depending on who’s doing the telling and who’s doing the listening. At one point, Ismael is accused of directing films in a way that puts him “all over the screen,” in spite of his protestations that his “job is to disappear,” to be an objective observer.

Of course, there’s no such thing. Desplechin delivers a raft of unreliable narrators, both real and imagined, to tangle you up in knots, and in doing so cops to it himself.

Related stories from TheWrap:

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French TV Movie About Deadly Bataclan Terror Attack Postponed Amid Outcry by Victims' Groups

French Media Accuses Christopher Nolan's 'Dunkirk' of Historical Inaccuracy

Watch Trump's Excruciating 29-Second Handshake With French President (Video)

‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Trailer: Marion Cotillard Haunts Charlotte Gainsbourg in Ambitious Cannes Opener

When Arnaud Desplechin’s sweeping “8 1/2” homage opens in March, it’ll be 20 minutes longer than when it played Cannes last year.

You’d be hard-pressed to think of three actors more emblematic of French cinema than Marion Cotillard, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Mathieu Amalric. Francophiles have a rare chance to see all three onscreen together in “Ismael’s Ghosts,” the latest film from “My Golden Days” director Arnaud Desplechin. The film opened the 2017 Cannes Film Festival to mixed reviews, and this latest iteration tacked on 20 more minutes to a story that many felt was overwrought at the time. In the latest trailer teases a love triangle with a twist, but offers no hint at the movie’s reported espionage chapter.

Per the official synopsis: “Ismaël Vuillard (Amalric) makes films. He is in the middle of one about Ivan, an atypical diplomat inspired by his brother. Along with Bloom, his master and father-in-law, Ismaël still mourns the death of Carlotta (Cotillard), twenty years earlier. Yet he has started his life over again with Sylvia (Gainsbourg). Sylvia is his light. Then Carlotta returns from the dead. Sylvia runs away. Ismaël rejects Carlotta. Driven mad by these ordeals, he abandons the shoot for his family home in Roubaix. There, he lives as a recluse, besieged by his ghosts.”

In his B- review, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote: “Like the fictional director, Desplechin seems to be lost in the rabbit hole of his winding narrative and unable to complete its journey — and while ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ isn’t his best movie, it’s almost certainly his most personal statement on his tangled relationship to his art.”

Watch the trailer for “Ismael’s Ghosts” below.

Magnolia Pictures will release “Ismael’s Ghosts” in theaters on March 23.

‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Trailer: Marion Cotillard Haunts A Former Lover In Arnaud Desplechin Drama

In the new trailer for the drama Ismael’s Ghosts, Oscar winner Marion Cotillard teams up with writer-director Arnaud Desplechin in a drama where a filmmaker is revisited by a former lover after he thought she was dead for nearly 20 years. The movie, which opened the Cannes Film Festival last year, marks a reunion between Desplechin and Cotillard who previously worked together in 1996’s My Sex Life… Or How I Got Into An Argument.
The film stars Mathieu Amalric as Ismael…

In the new trailer for the drama Ismael’s Ghosts, Oscar winner Marion Cotillard teams up with writer-director Arnaud Desplechin in a drama where a filmmaker is revisited by a former lover after he thought she was dead for nearly 20 years. The movie, which opened the Cannes Film Festival last year, marks a reunion between Desplechin and Cotillard who previously worked together in 1996's My Sex Life… Or How I Got Into An Argument. The film stars Mathieu Amalric as Ismael…

Marion Cotillard Weighs In On Woody Allen, Says Catherine Deneuve Letter Doesn’t Represent Her

Marion Cotillard sat with journalists this evening in Paris to discuss her recent film Ismael’s Ghosts, but the conversation quickly turned to current events in the industry. Speaking of her earlier work with Woody Allen on Midnight In Paris, the Oscar winner said she would think twice about working with him again, although she doesn’t expect to be asked.
“When I worked with him, I have to confess I didn’t question myself,” she said. “I didn’t know much about his personal…

Marion Cotillard sat with journalists this evening in Paris to discuss her recent film Ismael's Ghosts, but the conversation quickly turned to current events in the industry. Speaking of her earlier work with Woody Allen on Midnight In Paris, the Oscar winner said she would think twice about working with him again, although she doesn't expect to be asked. “When I worked with him, I have to confess I didn't question myself,” she said. “I didn't know much about his personal…

Hip Hop Redefined: How Arnaud Desplechin Uses Rap Music to Tell Fragile Stories — NYFF

In this latest dispatch from the NYFF Critics Academy, how rap music takes on a unique dimension in one of France’s greatest living filmmakers.

The following essay was produced as part of the 2017 NYFF Critics Academy, a workshop for aspiring film critics that took place during the 55th edition of the New York Film Festival.

Arnaud Desplechin may be the only filmmaker with a literary sensibility who understands the storytelling power of rap. His dialogue resembles a specific brand of French intellectualism that manifests in maladroit humor, and he maintains a general focus on epic, convoluted structures and literary motifs — soliloquies that break the fourth wall, omniscient narration, and strongly developed characters (which tie directly with his consistent lengthiness). His characters, while gauche, are irrevocably more privileged — they are artists and filmmakers, occupying large houses and indulgent with their resources.

This is why rap becomes a key contrasting factor in several of his films: Hip hop is not for the bourgeoise. The social issues that the lyrics of the rap songs often tackle have no relevance to the issues of the characters’ listening to them. There is an inherent disharmony between visuals depicting opulence and solitude, and lyrics lamenting poverty and promoting community through love and dance.

In mainstream cinema, hip-hop represents escapism: One immediately thinks of films that defined the genre like “8 Mile” or “Straight Outta Compton,” in which hip-hop amplifies lofty ambitions and offers a route to fame and success. Desplechin, who reacts to genre conventions by otherwise utilizing grandiose music compositions that evoke the cinematic, instead turns hip hop into a means of plainly representing reality.

Both his directorial debut “La Vie Des Morts” and 2004’s “Kings & Queen” include sequences of family crises being resolved with rap tunes (and the latter contains an unforgettable spontaneous Mathieu Amalric b-boy dance showcase). Such moments support the universality of the musical genre while calling into question the generational divide it usually invokes.

In his his latest effort, the multilayered narrative “Ismael’s Ghosts,” a syncopated orchestral score suggests the thriller genre with a film-within-a-film written by the movie’s frustrated filmmaker star. This musical composition is enough to formulate a sense of intrigue, bolstered by images of dimly lit corridors leading into trapdoors, and government officials sitting around fancy dinner tables discussing folklore as if they were mob bosses.

It climaxes with an interview for a secret government position that manages to be both intensely dramatic, and humorously aloof, before Desplechin attempts a conventional mic-drop edit: “I was tired,” the exalted Dedalus (Louis Garrel) whines, as he fumbles for the door; the music ramps up and the narrative fizzles out, revealed to be a part of the script being written by director Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), who sits forlornly in front of a stack of papers, scotch in hand. He’s listening to rap music — an unreleased song by French DJs that could be any rap song from the ‘80s — which grounds the film in reality even as the constructed imaginary of this meta-film adopts a traditional music score.

Ismael's Ghosts Marion Cotillard

“Ismael’s Ghosts”

The next instance of rap is even more evocative of this emotional sensationalism: Sylvie has suddenly left Ismael; in the dead of a rainy night in a phone booth outside of a gas station, the orchestral score climaxes as he weeps to her voicemail. This triggers a flashback — a brief scene of him drunkenly confessing his love one night to Sylvie before a quick cut triggers a remix of “Peace, Love and Having Fun” by Afrika Bambaataa, and the sound of Ismael directing, screaming viciously at members of his set harshly interrupt. The characters as a whole, who wear their hearts on their sleeves and are very prone to spontaneous outbursts have their unhinged mindsets reflected not so much through the music they listen to, but rather through constant antithetical shifts in the music used and the stylistic disproportion that such shifts impose.

Rap becomes appropriate theme music for Ismael, who embodies both the outwardly masculine stereotype that has come to be associated with the genre, as well as the innate insecurity implicated by hyper-masculinity. Here is an outwardly successful filmmaker with a manic temperament about him, defined immediately by his fondness for a type of music that is both liberated and iconoclastic. He thinks highly of himself, as do the other men in the film, but this cocksuredness is transparent, so accentuated that it becomes an evocation for extreme sensitivity, fragility.

He is occasionally tamed by his emotions. In following orchestrally-scored scenes that evoke the starkest of dramatics with naturalistic hip-hop sequences, lives become grounded in reality, yet retain the heightened romance of the movies. In both cases, the scenes that follow are genuinely tender, underscored by soft violins and more nuanced because of the spectrum of music leading up to them.

Through these scenes and Desplechin’s general adoration of the genre, the filmmaker channels rap’s objective as a catalyst for personal catharsis. It’s the perfect supplement to his form of expressionist cinema, which exudes energy and emotion on many levels at once. Desplechin’s films are like mixtapes, embodying various moods and digging into characters’ psyches with dizzying fervor and freneticism. Rap is its own language, taking part in a dialect with the rest of the film’s soundscape: sound cues, dialogue, and music of other genres — folk, jazz, classical.

But, in the spirit of his bohemian characters, disposable pop music is nowhere to be found. They’re too deep for that.

Marion Cotillard Drama ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Will Open in U.S. in New Version — Exclusive

Arnaud Desplechin’s Cannes opener will be 20 minutes longer when it premieres at NYFF this fall.

When “Ismael’s Ghosts” opened the 70th Cannes Film Festival in May, the movie was a freewheeling portrait of a neurotic filmmaker, Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), grappling with the reappearance of his long-missing wife (Marion Cotillard) and his new relationship with a more stable woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg). That may or may not have changed, but when “Ismael’s Ghosts” arrives at the New York Film Festival in September, it’s going to look a lot different.

While “Ismael’s Ghosts” clocked in at roughly two hours for its Cannes premiere, Magnolia Pictures will unveil Arnaud Desplechin’s director’s cut at NYFF in advance of its U.S. release. The new version is a full 20 minutes longer. Magnolia Pictures will only release that version into theaters for the film’s release in early 2018.

The news comes months after a tangled back-and-forth between Desplechin and the French distributors of the movie, which opened in its home country days after its Cannes premiere.

Desplechin, best known for complex ensemble dramas like “A Christmas Tale,” said in statement that the new version fleshes out several character’s backstories. These include the travels of the father of Cotillard’s character, Carlotta Bloom, after she abandons Ismael and is presumed dead. Desplechin shot an entire sequence exploring the older man’s trip to Israel that the director has worked into his new version. Additionally, he digs further into the film-within-a-film starring Ivan (Louis Garrel), the young spy at the center of a movie that Ismael is struggling to write. That subplot apparently finds the character getting killed — and brought back to life. The director’s cut also introduces a third love interest for Ismael, and finds him experiencing a near-death incident of his own.

“While the short version of ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ was a divertimento, I hope the director’s cut is an opera, a world,” Desplechin said. “From Tel Aviv to Addis-Abeba, this journey is contemporary, burlesque, epic, amorous, mad and full of wisdom. And it’s with a shivering emotion that I learned Magnolia Pictures would release this full version to American audiences.”

When the movie premiered at Cannes, Desplechin told members of the press that his initial cut was “more intellectual” than the “sentimental” version that played at Cannes.

The new cut is being supported by NYFF artistic director Kent Jones, a longtime supporter of Desplechin’s work who co-wrote his 2013 drama “Jimmy P.” Jones called the new movie “one of Desplechin’s most daring films, and it plays out on a big canvas.”

Beijing Weying Buys Chinese Rights To 9 Cannes Contenders: ‘Redoubtable’, ‘Loveless’, ‘Rodin’ & ‘Ismael’s Ghost’ In Mix

In an unprecedented alliance meant to stoke an appetite for prestige films in China, the online ticketing and marketing giant Beijing Weying Technology has acquired Chinese distribution rights to nine Wild Bunch films that are playing at the Cannes Film Festival, most in competition.
The Cannes films in the deal are the Andrey Zvyagintsev-directed Loveless, the Michel Hazanavicius-helmed Redoubtable, the Jacques Doillon-directed Rodin, the Lynne Ramsey-directed You Were Ne…

In an unprecedented alliance meant to stoke an appetite for prestige films in China, the online ticketing and marketing giant Beijing Weying Technology has acquired Chinese distribution rights to nine Wild Bunch films that are playing at the Cannes Film Festival, most in competition. The Cannes films in the deal are the Andrey Zvyagintsev-directed Loveless, the Michel Hazanavicius-helmed Redoubtable, the Jacques Doillon-directed Rodin, the Lynne Ramsey-directed You Were Ne…

Marion Cotillard Talks ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’; Says “I Would Pay” To Do American Comedy – Cannes Studio

Oscar winner and Cannes Film Festival veteran Marion Cotillard reteams with director Arnaud Desplechin for Ismael’s Ghosts, which opened the festival this week. The two previously worked together in 1996’s My Sex Life… Or How I Got Into An Argument. We sat down recently with Cotillard to discuss the new movie and how things have evolved for her over the past 20 years.
Ismael’s Ghosts is the story of a filmmaker (Mathieu Amalric) whose life is sent into a tailspin by the…

Oscar winner and Cannes Film Festival veteran Marion Cotillard reteams with director Arnaud Desplechin for Ismael’s Ghosts, which opened the festival this week. The two previously worked together in 1996’s My Sex Life… Or How I Got Into An Argument. We sat down recently with Cotillard to discuss the new movie and how things have evolved for her over the past 20 years. Ismael’s Ghosts is the story of a filmmaker (Mathieu Amalric) whose life is sent into a tailspin by the…

Arnaud Desplechin Responds to ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Alternate Cut Controversy: ‘There Aren’t Actually Two Films’

The Cannes opener doesn’t have two different cuts…or does it?

The way filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin explains it, his Cannes opening night offering “Ismael’s Ghosts” doesn’t have two different cuts, it simply has two different tones. 

At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon — held, as per tradition, after the press screening of the film, which will officially open the festival later tonight — Desplechin attempted to explain away rumors that the film bowing at the festival is not his preferred version, Variety reports.

READ MORE: The 2017 IndieWire Cannes Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During the Festival

“This is an idea that dates from a long time ago,” Desplechin told the crowd. “It was a proposal by the producer. We were looking at the situation…There aren’t actually two films. There’s the original version and the one you saw. The original one is a more intellectual one. The version you saw is the more sentimental one.”

The so-called “original version” of the film is a full 20 minutes longer and is currently set for just one screening venue: Paris’ Cinema du Pantheon, owned by producer Pascal Caucheteux.

Le Pacte will release the Cannes-debuting version in French theaters later this year. As for its domestic release? Variety reports that Magnolia Pictures, which is distributing the film in the United States, “still hasn’t decided which version to show.”

The “more sentimental version” reportedly contains “more of a love triangle between the film’s protagonist, a temper-tantrum throwing director (Mathieu Amalric) who is torn between the ghost of his former lover (Marion Cotillard) and his pregnant girlfriend (Charlotte Gainsbourg).”

READ MORE: Cannes Review: Marion Cotillard Won’t Stay Dead in Arnaud Desplechin’s Opening Night Film, ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’

In our review of the film, Eric Kohn wrote that the “Ismael’s Ghosts” is “a wild hodgepodge of genres that often risk collapsing on top of each other. At its best, the movie is a freewheeling gambit, hurtling in multiple directions at once, and it’s thrilling to watch Desplechin try juggle them all.”

“Ismael’s Ghosts” opened the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Magnolia Pictures will release it in the U.S. later this year.

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Cannes Opening Night Film: Director Addresses Controversy About Two Cuts

Controversies over showing the director’s cut of a film is familiar turf at the Cannes Film Festival — remember Harvey Weinstein vs. “Grace of Monaco”? But at the press conference on Wednesday afternoon for this year’s opening night selection, “Ismael’s Ghosts,” director Arnaud Desplechin tried to downplay reports that his version isn’t premiering at the… Read more »

Controversies over showing the director’s cut of a film is familiar turf at the Cannes Film Festival — remember Harvey Weinstein vs. “Grace of Monaco”? But at the press conference on Wednesday afternoon for this year’s opening night selection, “Ismael’s Ghosts,” director Arnaud Desplechin tried to downplay reports that his version isn’t premiering at the... Read more »

Cannes Review: Marion Cotillard Won’t Stay Dead in Arnaud Desplechin’s Opening Night Film, ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’

The opening film of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival is several movies at once, some more successful than others.

Within its first half hour, “Ismael’s Ghosts” weaves together espionage, melodrama, supernatural hauntings, and a filmmaker’s creative crisis. It’s the most ambitious movie to date from French director Arnaud Desplechin, whose ensemble dramas “A Christmas Tale” and “My Golden Years” also dealt with characters coping with their troubled pasts. This time, it’s a wild hodgepodge of genres that often risk collapsing on top of each other. At its best, the movie is a freewheeling gambit, hurtling in multiple directions at once, and it’s thrilling to watch Desplechin try juggle them all.

“Ismael’s Ghosts” within the confines of a movie imagined by its main character: a dense, labyrinthine spy story involving the experiences of young recruit Ivan (Louie Garrel) who’s services straight out of school. Minutes into that setup, Desplechin pulls out to reveal the world of disheveled writer-director Ismael (Mathieu Amalric), a rugged, hard-drinking artist buried in the process of writing a screenplay he can’t fully sort out. Abandoned without explanation by his wife 20 years ago and having presumed her dead, he still cares for her ailing father (Laszlo Szabo) and has launched a promising new romance with astronomer Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

But when Ismael takes Sylvia to his beach house one weekend, the past comes back to haunt him in more ways than one: While enjoying the waves one morning, Sylvia is confronted by Carlotta (Marion Cotillard), Ismael’s supposedly dead ex.

READ MORE: ‘Ismaël’s Ghost’ Clips: Marion Cotillard Bops Along to Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ — Watch

The second act is an intriguing showcase for all three actors, as a baffled Ismael confronts Carlotta about her extensive disappearance and Sylvia attempts to sort out how these circumstances might affect her future with Ismael. On its own terms, this setup would stand on steady ground as a self-contained movie, with a sturdy conflict rooted in the mounting suspicions and conflicting desires of a love triangle that has no easy solution. It’s a small gem of interlocking romances before rushing on to the next thing.

Cotillard is particularly enthralling as a melancholic bundle of mysteries eager to return to a world still haunted by the trauma of her departure; her interactions with Gainsbourg are fascinating, ambiguous stabs at bonding under impossible circumstances, most notably when she attempts to placate the other woman in Ismael’s life with a carefree dance to Bob Dylan’s “Baby, It Ain’t Me” on the porch as a deadpan Sylvia looks on. (It’s a blunt choice that Cotillard’s lively performance makes palatable.)

Gainsbourg does a solid job of exuding her frustrations stemming from Carlotta’s sudden arrival, but she’s sidelined by Ismael’s prominence in the narrative and winds up subservient to his existence. Fortunately, Desplechin regular Amalric is at the height of his powers as a frumpy, wide-eyed romantic slave to his passions and so lost in thought that the movie seems to exist at the whims of his restless mind.

Once the beach house dynamic falls apart, “Ismael’s Ghosts” heads into a less enthralling pity party as Ismael attempts to heal the various rifts in his life with mixed results. Finally, the story ventures into comedic territory as he makes a last-ditch effort to save his movie. This has been familiar territory ever since Fellini’s “8 1/2,” but Desplechin’s Ismael is not nearly as engaging a character as Marcello Mastroianni’s Guido Anselmi. Here, the movie suffers whenever it suggests there’s a real author behind all the layers of storytelling crying for help.

ismaels ghosts

“Ismael’s Ghosts”

Still, the movie retains an air of elegance: Gregoire Hetzel’s ominous score channels the spirit of Bernard Hermann and complements the echoes of “Vertigo” that creep into the plot, while the Irinia Lubtchansky’s slick images respond to the oscillating tones. As Desplechin flits between Ismael’s movie, his bumpy life story, and abrupt flashbacks, the movie feels like the shaggier, more boisterous second cousin to Spike Jonze’s “Adaptation,” its rough edges designed to mirror the main character’s fragmented inner life. When the movie crystallizes these loose themes, it retains an emotional clarity that draws the disparate pieces together. As Sylvia struggles to figure out if she can reintegrate into her old life, Carlotta tells her: “You exist for no one now.” That statement could apply to the entire cast.

READ MORE: The 2017 IndieWire Cannes Bible: Every Review, Interview and News Item Posted During the Festival

With so many audacious narrative ingredients on display, it’s unfortunate that the movie falls short of a satisfactory resolution. Instead, it heads into a series of overwrought showdowns that smooth out the various subplots in a tidy fashion. At one point, Ismael analogizes his project to the chaotic intentions of a Jackson Pollock canvas, with its hectic lines clarifying the painter’s vivid experiences. True enough, but this medium isn’t so kind to such a willfully messy approach, at least within the strictures of the narrative told here.

While it opens the 2017 Cannes Film Festival in a cut that runs just under two hours, Desplechin has reportedly prepared another version that runs 20 minutes longer and delves even deeper into Ismael’s past. Like the fictional director, Desplechin seems to be lost in the rabbit hole of his winding narrative and unable to complete its journey — and while “Ismael’s Ghosts” isn’t his best movie, it’s almost certainly his most personal statement on his tangled relationship to his art.

Grade: B-

“Ishmael’s Ghosts” opened the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Magnolia Pictures will release it in the U.S. later this year.

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‘Ismaël’s Ghost’ Clips: Marion Cotillard Bops Along to Bob Dylan’s ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ — Watch

Arnaud Desplechin’s latest premieres at Cannes this month.

Arnaud Desplechin is among the many established auteurs returning to Cannes this month, with “Ismaël’s Ghosts” marking his second trip the Croisette in three years. Marion Cotillard stars in the director’s latest, which Magnolia Pictures has already acquired ahead of its premiere. Watch two clips from Ismaël’s Ghosts below (via the Playlist).

READ MORE: ‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Trailer: Marion Cotillard Brings Arnaud Desplechin’s Otherworldly Cannes Drama to the Land of the Living

While you’re at it, here’s the synopsis: “Ismaël Vuillard makes films. He is in the middle of one about Ivan, an atypical diplomat inspired by his brother. Along with Bloom, his master and father-in-law, Ismaël still mourns the death of Carlotta, twenty years earlier. Yet he has started his life over again with Sylvia. Sylvia is his light. Then Carlotta returns from the dead. Sylvia runs away. Ismaël rejects Carlotta. Driven mad by these ordeals, he abandons the shoot for his family home in Roubaix. There, he lives as a recluse, besieged by his ghosts.”

READ MORE: Arnaud Desplechin’s ‘Ismaël’s Ghosts’ First Look: Marion Cotillard & Charlotte Gainsbourg Hit the Beach

Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alba Rohrwacher and Louis Garrel co-star in the film. Cannes begins on May 17 this year and runs until the 28th.

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‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ Trailer: Marion Cotillard Brings Arnaud Desplechin’s Otherwordly Cannes Drama to the Land of the Living

Desplechin’s latest will open the festival next month.

For his return to the Cannes Film Festival, Arnaud Desplechin is getting pride of place. “Ismael’s Ghosts” is set to open the festivities next month, as well as provide another opportunity for the French auteur to win the coveted Palme d’Or. Desplechin has been in Competition several times before — “My Sex Life… or How I Got into an Argument,” “A Christmas Tale” and “Jimmy P.” all debuted on the Croisette — and premiered 2015’s “My Golden Days” in the Directors’ Fortnight section. Watch the French-language trailer for “Ismael’s Ghosts” below.

READ MORE: Arnaud Desplechin’s ‘Ismaël’s Ghosts’ First Look: Marion Cotillard & Charlotte Gainsbourg Hit the Beach

Here’s the synopsis: “Ismaël Vuillard makes films. He is in the middle of one about Ivan, an atypical diplomat inspired by his brother. Along with Bloom, his master and father-in-law, Ismaël still mourns the death of Carlotta, twenty years earlier. Yet he has started his life over again with Sylvia. Sylvia is his light. Then Carlotta returns from the dead. Sylvia runs away. Ismaël rejects Carlotta. Driven mad by these ordeals, he abandons the shoot for his family home in Roubaix. There, he lives as a recluse, besieged by his ghosts.”

READ MORE: Cannes 2017 Announces Directors Fortnight Lineup, Including Sean Baker’s ‘The Florida Project’ and ‘Patti Cake$’

Marion Cottilard, Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Louis Garrel star in the film, which Magnolia Pictures acquired the rights to last year. “Ismael’s Ghosts” doesn’t have a release date as of yet.


 

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Arnaud Desplechin’s ‘Ismaël’s Ghosts’ First Look: Marion Cotillard & Charlotte Gainsbourg Hit the Beach

The film will arrive two years after the premiere of “My Golden Days.”

Just a year after the theatrical release of his film “My Golden Days,” a prequel to his 1996 film “My Sex Life… or How I Got into an Argument,” Arnaud Desplechin returns with his next film “Ismaël’s Ghosts.” The film follows a director who goes mad and returns to his family home only to be besieged by the ghosts in his life. It stars Mathieu Amalric (“A Christmas Tale”), Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Melancholia”), Marion Cotillard (“Inception”) and Louis Garrel (“The Dreamers”). See a first image from the film below, featuring Cotillard and Gainsbourg at the beach, courtesy of The Playlist.

READ MORE: NYFF: Arnaud Desplechin on Why ‘My Golden Days’ Feels Like His Debut Feature Film

This will be Desplechin’s ninth feature film. He’s best known for his multiple collaborations with Amalric, including “Kings and Queen,” “A Christmas Tale” and “Jimmy P: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian.” He has also directed the short film “La Vie des morts,” which won the Jean Vigo Prize for Short Films and the documentary “L’Aimée.” Last year, he won the  César Award and Lumières Award for Best Director, and the SACD Prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, all for “My Golden Days.” He also served as a member of the jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

READ MORE: IFC Films Acquires Rights to Arnaud Desplechin’s ‘Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian’

 

Ismaël’s Ghosts

“Ismaël’s Ghosts”

Why Not Productions/Magnolia Pictures

“Ismaël’s Ghosts” will be released sometime in 2017 by Magnolia Pictures.

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