Ismael’s Ghosts: Desplechin’s Self-Reflexive Film, Starring Marion Cotillard

Ismael’s Ghosts, which served as opening night of the 70th Cannes Film Festival, is the tenth feature of estimable French auteur Arnaud Desplechin, who has been a regular presence at the festival over the past two decades–in its various series.

Adding a panel to the body of features about the nature of filmmaking–a la Fellini’s 81/2 or Truffaut’s Day for Night, both superior–Ismael’s Ghosts is yet another self-reflexive tale of a beleaguered film director, haunted by his past and present, and perhaps even future too.

What Desplechin, who also wrote the script, has to say about the creative process of filmmaking is not particularly original, powerful, or intriguing.  For the most art, it feels like a jigsaw puzzle, composed of too many parts that ultimately do not add up.