Written and directed by David Lowery, A Ghost story is a unique and fascinating exploration of grief, mourning, death, and legacy.
Casey Affleck, on the back of his Oscar win for Manchester by the Sea, plays a recently deceased man, known only as C, who returns to his house as a ghost guised as a white sheet with two eye holes cut out of it. Still living in the house is M, his partner, portrayed excellently by Rooney Mara.
The film offers a truly unique perspective on the themes of death and grief. Instead of telling us the story from the grieving’s point of view, these themes are explored from the perspective of the deceased. We see Mara’s heartbroken M endure the painful tedium of everyday life in the otherwise empty house while being watched and followed by the ghost. It’s heartbreaking, powerful stuff. We don’t get an awful lot of time watching their relationship develop or much time getting to know these characters but the film still manages to hit you where it hurts.
The way the film is shot, with the most lingering of shots, allows the audience to contemplate things that they might not have had the director not had the nerve to resist calling cut when perhaps, conventionally, he should have. It’s brave. Really brave. What this results in is an opening half hour or so that feel very, very slow. But saying this, the film never feels directionless nor does it feel like a case of style over substance. Although it is undoubtably very stylish, it’s also thoughtful, precise and deliberate.
It’s a film short on dialogue, but it’s used efficiently when needed. There’s no exposition or time given to characters explaining how they’re feeling; the story is intelligently told through the events that occur around the ghost. It’s a truly heartbreaking film as we see Affleck’s ghost unable to move on, unable to accept the legacy he leaves behind as he watches the woman he loves move on with her life.
A Ghost Story is a truly masterful, intellectual and novel exploration of death and legacy and a film that leaves you time to ponder these issues thanks to the patient style of storytelling used by Lowery.
MASTERPIECE. A Ghost Story is a film that bravely and patiently explores existence focusing on the intellectual and philosophical issues rather than emotional impact.
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