Every now and again, you see a film that you can’t immediately grab ahold of how you feel about it. You know what you’ve seen is something that may be great but you’re perplexed. A Ghost Story is this movie. I’ve wanted to see the film for a while ever since the early buzz out of Sundance and the haunting and beautiful trailer. Well I finally went and saw it and after a day of sitting on my thoughts of the film and carefully assessing my feelings, I can say that A Ghost Story was kind of brilliant but also pretentious. For every pretentiously long scene, you receive a scene of pure beauty. The themes of Love, life and death are handled in such a way that I had to sit for a minute or two after the credits began to kind of just intake what just happened.
A Ghost Story on paper shouldn’t work. It’s a movie about a man who dies and resurrects as a Ghost that wears a bed sheet with two eye holes. Honestly, just writing that makes the film sound extremely dumb. Yet, when I was watching the film and there’s these long drawn out scenes of nothingness, I found myself slowly growing more and more depressed. The film has these splurts of action but I don’t know what it is but there’s something about a scene with a static camera that just both makes me uneasy and irritated, but in a good way. You start to become paranoid and think about things when nothing is happening. This film had that effect on me. There was an atmosphere to this film that constantly kept me sucked in even if I felt a scene was maybe overstaying its welcome. This is due to the wonderful cinematography that while it consists of a ton of static single takes, it creates beauty with each shot. The film was shot in a 1:33:1 aspect ratio and I really liked this because it replicated a home movie and made the film feel so much more personal.
Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck are both phenomenal in this film, especially Casey Affleck which for a character covered with a bedsheet for 95% of the runtime is quite impressive. The film isn’t without flaws. Like I stated, some scenes outstay their welcome to sometimes painful lengths, which may have been David Lowery’s, the directors, intention. Even with that, it sometimes feels a little pretentious. In the same vein of that, there’s a heavy handed monologue later in the film that feels kind of like it’s in the wrong film because of until that point the film relayed on a lot of visual storytelling. This scene just didn’t gel with me.
Besides this, A Ghost Story is a deeply moving and haunting film on what it means to die and to love. I love blockbusters and big budget extravaganzas yet films are supposed to challenge and make the viewer think and this film does those two things in spades.