A Ghost Story

"Very Good"

A Ghost Story Review


Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for an even more offbeat drama about the afterlife. A ghost story in which the lead character is a guy under a sheet feels like it should be funny, and yet this is a resolutely arthouse movie, inventive but pretentious and high-minded. Yes, the silly imagery makes us giggle, but Lowery strikes such a somber tone that we can't help but take it seriously.

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara reunite to play a couple whose happy life comes to an end when he is killed in a car crash. Now he wanders around their small house, watching his wife grieve, only able to communicate to another ghost who's haunting the house next door. After his wife packs up and moves on, this sheet-clad spirit sticks around, trying to communicate with a single mother (Sonia Acevedo), then a partying mob of ravers, including one guy (Will Oldham) who launches into a diatribe about the meaning of existence. But since he's dead, this ghost has only begun to experience his own journey through time and space.

Yes, as it goes along, the film spirals out into the kind of epic exploration of eternity that Terrence Malick keeps making (see The Tree of Life or To The Wonder). The central conceit of having Affleck performing under a white bedsheet is very clever, because it undercuts all preconceptions about ghost movies, offering a refreshingly earthbound approach that avoids swirly digital effects. But the fact is that, no matter how dark the film's tone is, it looks rather ridiculous. And Lowery only just barely gets away with walking this fine line between corny self-indulgence and meaningful drama.

Affleck and Mara are terrific in the opening scenes, conveying this couple's connection before they are pulled apart. This adds some emotional resonance to what follows, helping us experience the distance and closeness they feel after the husband dies. Acevedo is terrific in her sequence, which more closely resembles a horror movie. And Oldham offers some irony as one of those annoying over-talkers who actually strikes a nerve. But through all of this, Lowery's style continually reminds us that he's also haunting this film, shooting in extremely long takes in which very little seems to happen. And it culminates in a head-spinning final sequence that explores the nature of eternity itself. So while the movie feels rather gimmicky and slow, at least its fiendishly original touches get our minds churning.

Watch the trailer for A Ghost Story:



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Production compaines: Sailor Bear, A24, Zero Trans Fat Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Adam Donaghey, Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston

Starring: as C, as M, Will Oldham as Prognosticator, Sonia Acevedo as Maria, Rob Zabrecky as Pioneer Man, Liz Franke as Linda, Grover Coulson as Man in Wheelchair, Kenneisha Thompson as Doctor, McColm Sephas Jr. as Little Boy, Kesha Rose Sebert as Spirit Girl, Augustine Frizzell as Clara's Wife, as Clara, Yasmina Gutierrez as Yasmina, Barlow Jacobs as Gentleman Caller

Contactmusic


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