A Ghost Story (2017) is haunting in it’s originality
Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara star in this quiet, contemplative film, A Ghost Story by David Lowery. It is a film that dares to linger on scenes in an almost absolute silence as the audience is turns voyeuristic looking through doorways or windows as the drama unfolds. This is a film that will not appeal to everyone’s sensibilities, but worked extremely well for me. A Ghost Story earns the Must See rating. This film is one you want to see with as little information as possible about it so be warned from this point on there may be spoilers.
A Ghost Story with POTENTIAL SPOILERS
C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara) are contemplating moving out of their house. C is in a tragic car accident outside of their home. M varies the body at the hospital and pulls the sheet back over his head before walking away. The use of sound in this scene is intense as echoes of movement are heard and M’s footsteps fade away as she leaves her now deceased love. Lowery lingers on the covered C until he sits up sheet and all.
It’s from this point that the ghost from the poster becomes the lead character. Affleck spends the film under this heavy sheet with two eye holes that show only darkness. He returns home via some beautifully haunting long shots of a field with the ghost walking through it. M arrives home and is oblivious to her guest and begins grieving. Lowery again tests the audience’s patients with a very static shot of Mara eating a chocolate pie while sobbing. It’s an intense performance and forces the audience to either think about the loss of a loved one or check out of the film.
Big ideas in this contemplative film
The themes explored in this film are ones that often make people uncomfortable. There is even a conversation between ancillary characters about the idea of legacy and how finite everything truly is in order to make clear the ideas being considered during this film. The idea of time and how C seems to be oblivious to it and unaffected by it as the world around him moves on and he stays the same is expressed visually so brilliantly. Whether it’s interesting cuts as M moves through several days as C stays in the same spot or as C moves from one room to another with subtle changes to the house. Lowery really uses visual storytelling in such an expert way it’s awe inspiring.
There is no doubt that this film will not work for all audiences. The ones that connect with it will find it a thought provoking and emotion evoking film. Expertly crafted and well performed with some interesting choices in editing that some may find bothersome while other’s innovative. A24 has been able to distribute films that work for me in almost every instance. I wasn’t sure if a film like this would resonate with me, and maybe it’s because of my paranoia on the eve very small, outpatient operation that it did. Go in with an open mind and willingness to dwell on the ideas the film is considering.