Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review] A Ghost Story

What if you could observe your loved ones after you've passed on? That's just one of the questions explored in writer-director David Lowery's existential arthouse creation, A Ghost Story.

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck play a nameless couple who've just settled down in a modest new home. But it's not long before Affleck's character is suddenly killed in a car accident right in front of their house. He then comes a ghost (spooky!). We see him in that novelty Halloween costume form, you know--big white sheet over his body with hollow eyes cut out.

It's an intriguing, thought-provoking concept--in general and for a film--to be an invisible witness to the aftermath of your own death, and to see how someone close to you moves on with their life. The grief comes two-fold. And on one hand, the film is dressed as a strange, moody, and head-scratching experiment, and on the other, it's a haunting tale of love and loss, pain and time. What kind of mark did you leave behind? Will your memory last? What about the world and civilization as a whole?

The picture is presented in a square with rounded off corners--it reminded me of looking through a View Master. Which is fitting for the story, because it narrows your focus on the deep intimacy, and its effect is like a slideshow with snapshots of life. There are some very long static takes, where the silence and mundanity are almost confrontational. Sometimes these scenes last too long (the pie eating scene!), to the point where they threaten to diminish the film's cinematic presence.

A Ghost Story definitely isn't for everyone. In fact, it'll probably be one of the most divisive films of the year. A few moments turned me off, as well. But even so, there's an entrancing unpredictability to it, especially as the final stretch keeps tacking on pieces. The ending throws you for a loop, but I guess that's the film's way of tapping into what infinity might mean.

( 7.5/10 )

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