A Ghost Story Review
It’s been a few hours now that I have seen “A Ghost Story,” and I have been trying to put my thoughts into words that can form sentences. I have trying to make sense of what I just saw, and I still don’t know if I have it all figured out. I think I would benefit from a second viewing. I also think that this is going to be a movie I obsessively watch, over and over again, for many years to come. I will be pulling it apart, dissecting entire scenes and stretches, trying to figure out what it was writer and director David Lowery was trying to say. Make no mistake about it folks, this is a movie that will have you thinking about it, well after the credits roll. Some of you make hate it and some of you may love it. From what I have read since my screening, I have learned that this is one of the most divisive films of the year, with no middle ground.
I can tell you that I fall on the side of the fence which calls this movie good. I wouldn’t just call it a good movie though, this is a great movie. An amazing movie. A movie that gets into your head and deep under your skin and refuses to leave you alone. Just like the ghost of C (Casey Affleck) can’t seem to leave his widowed wife M (Rooney Mara) alone after he tragically dies in a car accident early in the movie. But is it really his wife he can’t let go of, or is it something else? I get confused myself, and I sadly don’t have the answers. The thing is, “A Ghost Story” refuses to offer up easy answers. That’s no doubt where all the haters come from. Many people out there want easy answers to movie’s questions, people find comfort and safety in being spoon-fed exposition in every movie they see. “A Ghost Story” isn’t for everybody, and I hate highly praising a movie that is, by design, not for all audiences. If you are an adventurous film lover, then you should really give this one a try. If not, move on, you’ll be frustrated by this one.
“A Ghost Story” is definitely a movie that deals with a ghost, duh right? But it’s not horror movie. It’s a movie that seems to encompass the entire experience of life and death and what comes after those two things in a beautiful portrait of a movie. It deals in life, love, loss, longing, loneliness, with an equal hand and with equal insight. It makes you think of all of these things deeply and how they all fit into your life. Before C dies in his accident, you can’t really tell if he is having trouble with his marriage to M or not, but it’s pretty clear she misses him after his death. One night on the hospital table, he rises, wearing a sheet and with two eerie black holes for eyes. Like a Halloween costume some little kid through together at the last minute.
What’s amazing is that for the rest of the movie, minus one or two scenes, Casey Affleck is under the bedsheet. He is a floating bedsheet ghost who does not speak for the rest of the film. He observes the human lives he comes into contact with. He never seems to go anywhere else, like he’s trapped in this house. Did he miss his opportunity for the afterlife? Have several horror movies with ghosts been right all along and they can’t move to the afterlife until they complete a goal? Why is C’s ghost still roaming this house? We not only see him observing his wife, but we see who moves into the house after she eventually moves out. The people that seem to inhabit the house, a deconstruction of the house, and eventually what becomes an urban landscape many years into the future.
What’s amazing about the movie is how Lowery plays with the perception of time and how it seems to differ between ghosts and life. There are no cheesy title-cards announcing the passage of time. We almost feel the passage of time through C’s ghost. What feels like minutes or seconds is many years in the real world and how Lowery communicates that is one of the wonders of the film. He makes a film shorter than two hours seemingly feel like an entire lifetime, no easy feat that.
Perhaps my theories and ideas on the movie are all wrong. Perhaps I have totally missed what Lowery was aiming for in the first place. If that’s the case, then I really don’t care. It’s been awhile since I have seen something so original, so strange and delightful all at once. This is a movie that I am very much glad that I saw. I don’t drop the big M word very often, simply put I don’t like to. I know what the words sets up in people’s minds regarding the movie in question. Especially with a movie that I know will infuriate some people. I can’t help it, though. “A Ghost Story” is a masterpiece.
FINAL GRADE: A+