Ghosted -- Film Review

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Filmmaker Monika Treut, who has long explored gay and lesbian themes and also has made a documentary about Taiwan, combines those interests in her latest narrative feature, "Ghosted," which awkwardly interweaves mystery and supernatural aspects into a lesbian love story. Few will be interested, other than the veteran filmmaker's dedicated fan base.

The story, told in confusingly time-hopping fashion, depicts the burgeoning relationship between Sophie (Inga Busch), a Hamburg-based conceptual artist, and Wang Mei-li (Hu Ting-ting), a Taiwanese reporter. The two meet when Sophie opens her latest exhibition, devoted to her late lover, Chen Ai-ling (Huan-ru Ke), who died under mysterious circumstances.

As Mei-Li aggressively pursues Sophie romantically and professionally, a series of flashbacks gradually reveals the details of Sophie's relationship with Ai-ling, who traveled to Hamburg in order to get information about her vanished father from her restaurateur uncle (Jack Kao).

The screenplay, co-authored by Treut and Astrid Stroher, is most effective in depicting the initial excitement of the two romantic relationships at its center. Where it founders is in its overly convoluted narrative and excursions into the supernatural, which the filmmaker is unable to execute with the necessary panache.

Not helping matters is Busch's stiff performance in the lead role, which considerably reduces the sympathy quotient for her character. Faring much better is Huan-ru Ke, who is appealingly natural as the innocent Ai-ling.

Shot in HD, the film lacks technical polish, though it does offer a colorful travelogue of Hamburg and Taipei.

Opens: Friday, July 31 (First Run Features)
Production: Hyena Films
Cast: Inga Busch, Huan-ru Ke, Ting-Ting Hu, Jana Schultz, Marek Harloff, Jack Kao
Director-producer: Monika Treut
Screenwriters: Monika Treut, Astrid Stoher
Director of photography: Bernd Meiners
Editor: Renate Ober
Production designers: Isolde Ruter, Cheng-Yi Yang
Costume designer: Petra Kilian
Music: Uwe Haas
No MPAA rating, 89 minutes
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