The 70th Festival de Cannes opens with the latest film by Arnaud Desplechin, The ghosts of Ishmael. A movie can be dizzying on the ghosts of the filmmaker who ends up by being lost and tired.
The film starts on a story of espionage with a group of diplomats discussing the sudden disappearance of Ivan Dedalus, the other a diplomat roaming. As for better we lose, one then discovers that this is the story of the film that realizes Ishmael on Ivan Dedalus, inspired by his own brother (which makes Ishmael another double of Paul Dedalus, and Desplechin). When he starts to write in his house by the sea with his girlfriend Sylvia (sublime Charlotte Gainsbourg), resurfaces Carlotta (Marion Cotillard), his wife, and left for dead 20 years ago. Sylvia feels threatened by the presence of this missing she very quickly understands that she returned to retrieve her husband. But Ishmael does not intend to leave the young woman, whose absence has been tormented all these years, back on his life.
Arnaud Desplechin has a habit of creating links between his characters and his films, such as to create gateways into his filmography, but also connect his own ghosts. Nothing new so if this is in The ghosts of Ishmael, the self-references are so numerous that one does not know to whom they are addressed. In addition to the first and last names of the characters who return and swap partitions (Ishmael, Faunia, Ivan, Dédalus), Arnaud Desplechin has plenty of nods to previous films by making it reappear Marion Cotillard naked, twenty years after How I played in my sexual life, questioning his own creative madness, or in bringing Ishmael to Roubaix, the hometown of Desplechin, to which he devotes a long chapter in Three memories of my youth. You eventually lose yourself in the maze(us) stories, too many and with no apparent link. And mixes the genres and the stories and pass to a film of espionage, theft and the notion of identity at a closed-door drama and theatre by the sea which ended up falling through the time in the burlesque -but is also graceful, when Carlotta begins to dance on Bob Dylan. This mise en abyme, kaleidoscopic might look like one of the nightmares are incessant, Ishmael is forced to take pills to avoid sleep. It is disturbing, in that building exploded, it is not so much the stage that alternates close-ups and intimate, the film within the film, and the planes facing the camera to Marion Cotillard who tells his indian wedding or Charlotte Gainsbourg , who concludes the film, but rather the feeling of never being able to catch the branch as it stretches out to us in this maze (and psychoanalytic).
“The ghosts of Ishmael revisits the films of Desplechin, between vertigo and boredom. “
You can guess how this film is particularly autobiographical, and its ghosts are apparitions obsessive as references to the Cinema. Carlotta is obviously a nod to the Vertigo ofa Hitchcock movie. The plans facing the camera where Sylvia takes advantage of the viewer as the exchanges corrosive among the three characters, remind us by the time Bergman. But the abyss is so kaleidoscopic that we finally give up on the film as Carlotta abandons Ishmael and his father (Laszlo Szabo), for no real reason. It is with the impression to be past to the side of something possibly great, but you have to admit the boredom felt. Yet the actors are all great, the trio of main as the supporting roles (Louis Garrel in the fictional brother of Ishmael, Alba Rohrwacher , or Hippolyte Girardot to name only a few). The genius of Desplechin to summon the viewer into the intimacy of a story and its invisible dimension has not worked this time. Dare to believe that disappointment is linked to the short version which is a real encouragement to discover the original version, twenty minutes longer. You never know.
Anne Laure Farges
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• Realisation : Arnaud Desplechin
• Main players : Mathieu-Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Marion Cotillard
• Release Date : may 17, 2017
• Duration : 1h54min