On the surface, Jean-Paul Civeyrac’s Fantômes unfolds with a sense of haunted, supernatural disequilibrium that similarly infuses Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s atmospheric, tonal cinema. In the film’s opening sequence, a young acting student, Mouche (Dina Ferreira) stares out the window of an empty room and wistfully implores her absent lover, Bruno (Olivier Boreel) to return. Alone with her grief, she retreats into the silence of her intimate memories, briefly interrupted by what appears to be an anonymously placed, prank telephone call (in a premise that coincidentally evokes Kurosawa’s Pulse, made in the same year), before being brought back to the mundane reality of rehearsing text in Russian for an upcoming drama class during a subsequent telephone conversation with her professor, Andreï (Jean-Claude Montheil). However, Mouche’s desolation does not lie in the vestiges of a failed love affair, but rather, in the tragic loss of a new lover from a motorcycle accident. The image of the sad-eyed Mouche invoking the name of her dead lover is reflected in the dorsal shot of another distracted acting student, Antoine (Guillaume Verdier) as he stares out the window of a country house while rehearsing his lines, avoiding the gaze of his first love (Emilie Lelouch) before finally resolving to break up with her.Emboldened by his newfound emotional liberation, Antoine turns away from the quiet familiarity of his pastoral life and hitchhikes his way to Paris to visit his cousin Mathieu (Serge Bozon) where, on the eve of his arrival, he witnesses the curious disappearance of his traveling companion (Guillaume Junot) on the side of a hill overlooking the city – an unemployed motorist attempting to reconcile with his estranged wife with empty promises of finding a new job – after he pulls his car over to the side of the road in order to get better reception on his cell phone, and simply vanishes into the darkness.