City of Ghosts  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

City of Ghosts is a 2002 drama film co-written, directed by and starring Matt Dillon, about a con artist who must go to Cambodia to collect his share in money collected from an insurance scam. The film was made in Cambodia, in locations that include Phnom Penh and the Bokor Hill Station.



Jimmy (Dillon) is a conman who's been working for a fake insurance company in New York City that is being investigated by the FBI after it cannot pay claims that have poured in after a hurricane. Discovering that his mentor and the mastermind of the scheme, Marvin (Caan), has skipped the country and gone to Thailand, Jimmy boards a plane with the intention of trying to collect his money.

Once in Bangkok, Jimmy meets Joseph Kaspar (Skarsgård), a partner in the scheme who's living with his Thai katoey companion Rocky (Kyoza). Joseph informs Jimmy that Marvin has moved on to Cambodia, where he's planning an even greater scam. So Jimmy sneaks across the border and makes his way to Phnom Penh.

He checks into a seedy hotel run by a Frenchman named Emile (Depardieu) and has his passport stolen by another traveller. Later Jimmy has his sunglasses stolen by a macaque.

Needing to travel around, he hires a cyclo driver named Sok (Sereyvuth), who becomes the only person Jimmy can trust. He also meets an NGO worker named Sophie (McElhone) and dabbles in romance with her while attending a rave party at an ancient temple.

Eventually, Marvin turns up, but the scam he's trying to get together – involving corrupt Cambodian government officials, high-ranking military and the Russian mafia – turns out to be more risky and dangerous than anyone ever imagined, taking Jimmy on a surreal odyssey.



Locations in Cambodia

Casting in Cambodia

  • Kem Sereyvuth, the cyclo driver who played Sok, was cast in Cambodia. He had no prior acting experience. The story his character tells Jimmy is his own.
  • In one scene in the hotel bar, a character, Harry the American expat, tells Jimmy in no uncertain terms that he's a fool and does not know what he's getting into. Harry was portrayed by Michael Hayes, the publisher of the Phnom Penh Post, a daily English-language newspaper.
  • The macaque that stole Jimmy's sunglasses was named Jadet, who was smuggled in from Thailand because the Cambodian monkey was not tame and "bit a chunk out of the prop lady's ear," Dillon told Time Asia. "The Thai monkey escaped, and its trainer was yelling at these kids who gathered around not to chase it. Of course, every kid in Cambodia went after that monkey, and it ran into the post office where things really got nuts."
  • The people at the full moon party, as well as some of those on Emile's balcony, are all actual backpackers recruited from Phnom Penh guesthouses.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "City of Ghosts" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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