She’s Not There 

ghosted_inga_busch.jpg

Ghosted
Directed by Monika Treut

German director Monika Treut is primarily known as a lesbian filmmaker from the great international queer cinema boom of the 80s whose later documentaries focus on gay-related issues, but Ghosted is a strikingly mystical, and universal, affair. As per its title, phantoms abound as outgrowths of technology, memory and the spirit world, with all three mediating and complicating interpersonal perceptions in a story concerning a Hamburg visual artist, Sophie (Inga Busch), mourning the loss of her Taiwanese lover Ai-ling (Huan-Ru Ke). A Taiwanese reporter (Ting-Ting Hu) comes around to interview Sophie and subsequently beds her, igniting flashbacks to Ai-ling's immigrant experience in Germany and investigation of a family secret, her shared love with Sophie, and the estrangement that led to her strange death.

Intriguing stuff, potentially, but as a drama the film is as dry as a small Bible Belt town. Part of the problem is the excruciatingly stiff acting, perhaps the result of both leads speaking in a common but foreign language (English), but also just as likely the consequence of directorial rust, Ghosted being Treut's first narrative film in more than ten years. Treut can still produce beautiful images from time to time — though one wonders why she under-employs her misty, mountainous Taipei setting — which makes it all the more surprising to see her rely so heavily on tedious exposition, narrative dead ends, and silly contrivances: will I ruin anything by pointing out that one character turns out to be an actual ghost?

Opens July 31

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