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.”