Skip to main content

"A Ghost Story" is Mysterious and Moving: Review

Film Review: A Ghost Story

                                   Image result for a ghost story

Between Personal Shopper and David Lowery's A Ghost Story, 2017 has been a good year for thought-provoking ghost movies. Lowery's film is the stranger of the two, but still one of the most memorable movies in quite some time. It's an entrancing contemplation of love and loss, an exploration through time of what it means to be connected to a place, to a person. 

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play an unnamed couple. We don't learn much about them, but we learn that they are in love. A heavy sense of dread pervades these early scenes of the film. Affleck's character dies and his ghost returns to his house to observe first Mara, then other occupants of the house and the land on which it sits. It has been said that when a person dies in a sudden traumatic way (like the car crash Affleck's character dies from), their soul remains tethered to something that feels familiar. For this ghost, that place is the house he shared with Mara's character and felt connected to even before he dies. Time appears to work differently for the ghost as centuries pass in what feels like a couple of minutes. In that way the movie reminded me, weirdly, of Interstellar. It examines our legacy,  a note we leave in the wall, a song we write, and asks the question what outlives us. But the film is more comforting than the pretentious scientific explanation of death spouted off by a drunk guy at a party at the center of the movie would suggest. The guy says trying to leave a legacy is ultimately pointless because everything will eventually die anyway, but the movie's not that nihilistic. That the ghost is tethered to the house in the first place means that there was something there, something that didn't die when he did. 

The ghost is represented, not by makeup or digital effects, but by a white sheet with eyeholes cut out. The image is not as funny as when Charlie Brown wears the same costume. It's odd, surprising, but one that immediately allows the audience to understand the situation and to sympathize with the ghost. Although he never speaks (he does silently communicate with another ghost in one eery subtitled scene), the ghost is remarkably able to convey his frustration and loneliness.

A Ghost Story is David Lowery's third film as a director. Mara and Affleck had previously worked with him on his first feature, Ain't Them Bodies Saints. His second was last year's remake of Pete's Dragon. If that seems like a weird movie to be sandwiched in between two much smaller arthouse films, that's because it is. A mainstream kids movie doesn't seem like it would be something Lowery would have much interest in making, but I'm glad he did because Pete's Dragon was excellent and you should see it if you haven't already. With only three movies under his belt he has established himself as a director who can work successfully on both small and large scale projects. Whatever he chooses to do next will definitely have my attention. 

What did you think of A Ghost Story? Leave a comment to let me know! Thanks for reading!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again" is a Fun Musical and Showcase for the Wonderful Lily James: Review

Film Review: Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is the sequel to the 2008 film Mamma Mia , which was based on the stage musical of the same name, which itself was based on the songs of ABBA. If it seems like some of the fun would be lost with each additional iteration,   Here We Go Again proves otherwise. As unnecessary as it may be, the sequel is an exceptionally fun time at the movies. Following the Godfather Part II template, Here We Go Again is actually half-sequel, half-prequel, with a continuation of the first movie's plot interwoven with flashbacks depicting how Donna met each of her daughter's potential fathers and how she came to inexplicably live on a gorgeous Greek island, which was set up in the first film. Being the second musical to exclusively feature the music of ABBA, Here We Go Again  faces the inevitable challenge of the first movie having done nearly all of the Swedish group's best and most well-known songs. A number of th

"My Mind Turns Your Life Into Folklore": Why Taylor Swift's "Gold Rush" Is a Song About Songwriting

"My mind turns your life into folklore." That line, from the song "Gold Rush," is the only time the word "folklore" is spoken on either of Taylor Swift's 2020 records, Folklore and Evermore , the latter of which is where the song appears. The presence of the line indicates that "Gold Rush" is a pivotal song not only in Swift's lockdown duology, but in her maturation as a songwriter.  Swift's early albums often drew heavily from her own experiences, with fans and the media scouring her lyrics for clues as to which ex-boyfriend her numerous breakup songs referred. Her tumultuous dating life made as many headlines as her music, in part because it informed so much of the music. The discourse was often ridiculous and reductive, and thankfully, that period of her career is over (Swift has been in a relationship with the actor Joe Alwyn since 2016).  Both of her 2020 albums have their fair share of autobiographical songs, but they also see

Film Review: "Hail, Caesar!"

Film Review: "Hail, Caesar!" "Hail, Caesar!", the latest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, is set in Hollywood in the early 1950s, the final years before the collapse of the studio system. Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a studio exec whose job entails putting out all the fires started by the stars of the various films in production at the studio. These stars include George Clooney as an actor in a Ben Hur -like epic who gets kidnapped, Scarlett Johansson as the star of an 'aquamusical', similar to the ones starring Esther Williams, and Channing Tatum, who plays a Gene Kelly-like dancer starring in a sailor musical. The amount of time and detail given to these movies-within-the-movie is evidence of the brothers' love and appreciation for moviemaking, without which the movie would be in danger of feeling hollow and disingenuous.