MOVIE: A GHOST STORY
STARRING: CASEY AFFLECK; ROONEY MARA
DIRECTED BY: DAVID LOWERY
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
I’m not sure where to begin with A Ghost Story? It is by far the most unique film anyone will see all year and yet, this is not the type of film you can just recommend to audiences. In fact, you should see this movie without knowing anything about it. And if you read this first and then go see it, I’m not even exactly sure if I would do it justice in my description for you. It’s about love, loss, life, the past, the present, and the future. I think that sums it up? It is also a movie where a ghost in a white bed sheet wanders around in the afterlife. Director/writer David Lowery, most known for his heartwarming family re-make of Pete’s Dragon, has made something entirely different from that Disney fluff. A Ghost Story may not be loved by all, but it’s the one movie of 2017 that will be talked about endlessly.
The films main focus starts with a married couple, whose names are just letters- C- played by Casey Affleck and M- played by Rooney Mara. They live in a small home in Texas, where we vaguely learn that C is a musician, often playing songs on the grand piano in the living room, and the two at some point struggled to have children. We then see a car slammed into a tree in a crash that has taken C’s life. He is then stuck in a ghost state, and wanders from the morgue back home, where he stays, watching his wife struggle to cope, and eventually move on from the love she has lost. Meanwhile, the ghost just stays in the home, stuck in a state of purgatory? Maybe? Or has this ghost always been there? Is this just what happens when we die?
One of the best ways that I would describe my viewing of A Ghost Story is a cathartic experience. There is very little music that plays in the background, as we witness this floating sheet linger in the background; it is almost a certainty that your mind will start to wander. Each experience for every audience member is going to be different, and I think that is the point that Lowery is going for. You will notice the cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo, beautifully shot in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, which looks like a box, and is obviously done on purpose. It creates an image that evokes an old fashioned feel, much like a black & white pictures, and adds to the sense of time passing. And for our ghost it is his passage of time that will really get you thinking.
The things that we see as the ghost voyages on is a philosophical and spiritual process. A new family moves into the home, where a mother of two struggles to raise her children. The ghost watches in wonder, questioning why his wife is gone, and who are these people in my home? He will notice another sheeted ghost in the home next door, where they communicate without speaking. The family will move out, a group of young artist hipsters move in, leading to a party, and a monologue (one of the films few speaking parts) that feels straight out of Richard Linklater’s Slacker delivered by a character who’s listed as Prognosticator (Will Oldham). Everything he says encapsulates what we are trying to do as humans or artists, which is leave something behind so that we might make an impact on the world.
I don’t know much, but I will say that David Lowery has left an impact with this film. We often look to films as a purpose or reason for being entertained, but here is a film that gives life a purpose. A Ghost Story captures the happiness, the sadness, the families we see, and the people that make an impact on us. It’s hard to compare it to other films, but it feels like a blend of Tree of Life, Boyhood, and something entirely of it’s own creation. I see a lot of films that make an impact on me and here is a film that made me think and think and think. I was not quite sure what I had seen or even how I felt. It will challenge everyone who sees it. Some will absolutely hate it, some might cry, some might laugh at the silliness of it all. One thing is for sure, A Ghost Story is a quite the out of body experience.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady