In a world of blockbusters it is easy to forget that film can be art. We can ignore plot and/or characters and look at a film as an art piece if in the right hands. This can be very obnoxious like Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme or it can be powerful like Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life. I have long been a bit of an apologist for these kinds of films but can readily see why some people hate them. The new film A Ghost Story falls in this vein and it is an extremely unusual movie.
The narrative is very simple. Basically a man played by Casey Affleck dies and returns as a schoolyard style ghost with a sheet and 2 eye-holes covering him. He then proceeds to follow his wife played by Rooney Mara looking throughout time for something important. We don’t know what but he watches and waits.
This movie is not for everyone. Just to give you some flavor there is a good 5 minute scene (at least) where Rooney Mara eats a pie and the ghost stares at her.
A Ghost Story was directed by David Lowery who did the enchanting Pete’s Dragon last year, and he is a filmmaker to watch. The movie looks stunning (cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo should be praised). It’s as gorgeous as anything Emmanuel Lubezki has done for Inaritu or Malick. I also loved it was shot with a unique aspect ratio to give it a vintage feel.
My only flaw with the film is I’m not really sure what it is trying to say? It has something to do with being remembered and how life goes on without you but it feels like it was trying to say more than that and I didn’t get it. You could see the ambiguity as a good thing, but I was left a little befuddled by it. I’ve been surprised with number of reviews claiming A Ghost Story as a powerful treatise on life and human nature because I didn’t connect with it on that kind of emotional level.
A Ghost Story is not scary at all. If you come in expecting a horror movie you will be very disappointed. It is a pretty mild R rating with just a few swears and mild sensuality. So if it sounds like something might interest you give it a shot. If not then I doubt you will like it.
Overall Grade- B
If you have seen A Ghost Story let me know what you think it is trying to say? I would love your thoughts