Ghosts: An Impressive First Film (Review)

Ghosts: An Impressive First Film (Review)

Centered on an organization that hunts Syrian war criminals in Europe, this thriller transforms espionage into fascinating sensory theater.

Documentary filmmaker (as Ceuta, sweet prisonOr he filmed exiles trying to reach Europe), the French Jonathan Millet also lived in Syria in the late 2000s and has since collected various testimonies from people whose lives were devastated by the civil war that broke out in 2011. Eager to tell the story of a secret cell – as exists in reality – that hunts down Syrian war criminals hiding in Europe, the filmmaker abandons the documentary in Les Fantômes to embrace spy cinema and give free rein to a romantic exploration of this quest for justice. By following Hamid, a young Syrian who was tortured in Bashar al-Assad’s prisons and who finds himself in Strasbourg on the trail of his former torturer whose face he has never seen, this captivating thriller transforms an infiltration mission into a fascinating empire of intimate sensations and traumatic memories.

In the heart of seemingly peaceful settings (a French university, an Alsatian Christmas market, etc.), a spiritual and sensory whirlwind thus agitates the hero, a former literature professor haunted by the war that Adam Bessa (Harka) camps with a moving restraint. Littered with urban surveillance, the staging shows how the stifling art of lying cultivated by Hamid constitutes at the same time his only hope of liberation. And the film ultimately brings out the light to affirm that the most tragic existences can against all odds be appeased with dignity.

By Jonathan Millet With Adam Bessa, Tawfeek Barhom, Julia Franz Richter… Duration 1h45. Released on July 3, 2024

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