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Parents' Guide to

Ismael's Ghosts

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Confusing French drama has shocking violence, nudity.

Movie R 2018 114 minutes
Ismael's Ghosts Poster Image

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Unfortunately, a strong cast of top-flight actors doing great work isn't enough to save this muddled French drama from the sense that there's just no reason for any of it. Murky, unknown motivations in Ismael's Ghosts stop adding suspense and interest when they drag on too long and no answers are even peeking over the horizon. Confusing moves back and forth in time interspersed with a spy story don't add or build tension the way they should. The stories take too long to develop, answers are too slow in coming if they come at all, and especially with the spy story, once you figure out what's going on, it's too far away from the setup for you to be able to piece any kind of meaningful revelation out of it.

The acting's good, though, and fans of French cinema or of any of the three main actors will enjoy watching their performances even without being able to piece together a cohesive whole. It ends on a positive note, although one that seems to arrive because the director just decided it was time, rather than because the story reached its natural conclusion. The rare but shocking violence and mature sexuality make it best for oldest teens and up.

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