A Ghost Story – Review

A Ghost Story – Courtesy of A24.

Slow, methodical, and meditative – A Ghost Story won’t be for those that bore easily, but it will reward those who can put up with its mellow length.

Pushed with intent, this fantasy drama film follows the harrowed journey of a lost ghost as it peers through time.

A Ghost story is about the exploration of grief as a concept, the physical manifestation of grief and the emotional turmoil one faces with the loss of a loved one. Beautifully symbolizing loneliness with its negative space in its shots, and oftentimes pitch-silent scenes, you get an airy sense of memory throughout the film. With the use of its intensely atmospheric filmmaking techniques; some silent and stationary shots last upwards of 4 minutes or more, as director David Lowery tries to etch that sense of loneliness into the audience’s brains. Watching this film helps you to understand the vague concept of losing someone close to your heart, as it utilizes the ebb and flow of time to show how it can leave a hole or void in one’s heart.

With Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara both helming roles we get a surprisingly sparse amount of screen time with both of them. Though it’s clear the intent of the film was to observe the characters hardships and not follow their lives. In essence, the ghost was the lead character, as it essentially experiences everything on screen. Though this film is not profoundly explosive with emotional performances, it offers up a deeply unsettling concept and the actors all executed their roles in this concept perfectly.

Visually the cinematography in this film was stunning, heart wrenching, and often bleak; as this film constantly reinforces the sense of loneliness. Visually the film attempts to evoke a sense of memory, the screen ratio itself is letter-boxed, making one feel as if we are looking into an old photo, an old memory. All of these small details create a greater whole, something that is truly an experience to feel.

Though the film remains confined within the inescapable walls of a small house, it eventually moves to other locations; this is an indie film, so don’t expect grand sets, but what was used was done effectively and thoughtfully enough to support the fantastic tone that director David Lowery presents. The music in this film was some of the best I’ve heard all year, skillfully matching up with the atmosphere and enticing an emotional response at just the right time.

A Ghost Story slowly chips away at your emotional center, reminding you of just how many layers of grief there truly is. The more I think about this film the more I grow to appreciate it. David Lowery has shown he can pull out some nearly masterful storytelling and proves that there are so many fresh ideas still out there to be explored.

8.7/10

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