Panned in Cannes: Marion Cotillard’s Ismaël’s Ghosts mauled by critics
MARION COTILLARD flashed a confident victory sign last night as her new film Ismaël’s Ghosts opened the 70th Cannes Film Festival. But the smile was soon wiped from the Oscar-winner’s face when critics gave the French drama — also starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Louis Garrel — a mauling. Other stars gracing the festival’s red carpet included model Bella Hadid, Monica Bellucci, Will Smith, Jessica Chastain and Uma Thurman.
Cannes Film Festival ★✩✩✩✩
CRITICS have called this ‘atrocious’ and compared it to 2003 cult disaster The Room. Not since Grace Of Monaco has a Cannes opening film been so derided. But how bad is it really?
It’s certainly a weird one. The film from French director Arnaud Desplechin stars Marion Cotillard as Carlotta, the wife of Ismaël (Mathieu Amalric), a charismatic, eccentric, hard-drinking film director. Carlotta disappeared 21 years ago and makes a dramatic re-entrance just as Ismaël is settling down with his new girlfriend, Sylvia (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
Awkward. Carlotta wafts, ghost-like, through Ismaël’s beachside pad, looking mysterious and flirtatious while the lovers try to get their heads around her re-appearance. Where has she been? Why now? Despite an annoying habit of darting back and forth chronically, it’s all shaping up to be an intriguing love triangle melodrama, albeit a very French one, in which the definition of a ‘prudish’ woman is sleeping with just one married man at a time. Gainsbourg is great, and Cotillard captures the spirit of an almost comically capricious character.
Then everything goes mental. Dropping that story like a hot potato, the focus shifts to Ismaël’s latest film, an espionage thriller about a socially-challenged spy romancing a childlike girl. Desplechin pulls back the camera to show behind the scenes, where Ismaël is literally losing the plot, ping-ponging between doctors and actresses’ beds.
The more characters that are introduced, the shorter scenes become, perhaps to indicate Ismaël’s lack of attention span. But by this time, the audience is starting to suffer from the same problem: there’s just too much thrown at the screen.
Cannes opening films sometimes get clapped at the end of a press screening. This one was met by a stunned silence.
Author: Anna Smith