In his directorial debut, Matt Dillon gives us a character driven story with fantastic cinematography and numerous plot twists. Matt Dillon, better known for his role in teen flicks and his over the top performance in “There’s Something about Mary” definitely can add another credential to his Hollywood portfolio – actor and director. It just seems funny that in his directorial debut he features himself as the main character.
Dillon plays Jimmy Cremmins, a New York con artist, whom in the wake of a huge in…urance scam finds the FBI looking for him. He escapes America and goes to Cambodia to search for his con artist mentor Marvin (James Cann). In his journey he meets many interesting people including Kaspar – one of Marvin’s henchmen (well played by Stellan Skarsgard), the sleazy hotel owner (Gerard Depardieu) and the beautiful English art restorer (Natascha McElhone). Jimmy learns that his associates have kidnapped Marvin and held for ransom, he must try to find him.
The problem with City of Ghosts is that the journey to find Marvin is so convoluted with multiple sub-plots that it gets outright confusing and at times tedious. The pacing also becomes problematic at times with the movie feeling like it comes to a standstill at some points. Unfortunately this detracts from some great performances and beautiful photography.
City of Ghosts is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen. This movie looks very good with fantastic landscapes, which quickly switch to the grime of the city Phnom-Penh. The colors are striking with little if any artifacting of the picture. The black level is set well as are the flesh tones.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track delivers. The soundtrack is rich and makes very good use of bass and environmental effects. Decent use of the surround speakers help with the overall experience.
The only extra feature is a feature length director’s commentary with Matt Dillon and co-writer Barry Gifford. The commentary discusses the origin of the idea as well as the evolution from idea to finished product. Informative but not exactly entertaining. Matt Dillon sounded like he was still asleep or hung over (or maybe both).
I always liked Matt Dillon as an actor and was impressed by his skills as a director. As mentioned before, there are some great performances here but the story became too diluted and confusing as it progressed which will make it difficult for some to follow.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary by Director Matt Dillon and co-writer Barry Gifford