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Review: A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story
07.03.2017
9 10
A GHOST STORY was previously reviewed as part of our Sundance 2017 coverage.

PLOT: The spirit of a deceased man (Casey Affleck) haunts the home he lived-in with his beloved wife (Rooney Mara).

REVIEW: One of the Sundance Film Festival’s most unique categories is the “Next” section. Meant to spotlight daring narratives, it usually focuses on emerging filmmakers, which is why it was a surprise to see David Lowery’s latest, A GHOST STORY, as part of the selection. With him coming off PETE’S DRAGON, and it re-teaming him with his A-list AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, one would have reasonably assumed A GHOST STORY would have gotten a higher-profile berth in the U.S Dramatic or Premieres section.

a ghost story

It turns out, “Next” was the right place for it after all, with this far from a typical Sundance offering. Boldly experimental, A GHOST STORY is Lowery experimenting, but the result is far from self-indulgent, with it emerging as one of the most-talked about films at the fest, and quite possibly his best film to date.

It’s  best not to know much about A GHOST STORY going in, but suffice to say this isn’t your typical supernatural tale. Rather, Lowery, after a quick introduction establishing Affleck’s musician and his wife, played by Mara’s, idyllic suburban existence (although they’re in the process of relocating to a loft in NYC), eschews conventional narrative entirely. He takes the ghost’s perspective, something which I don’t think has ever been done, as he observes his wife coming to terms with his death, moving on, and then, that’s when the movie gets really intriguing.

I expected Lowery’s film to be rather twee, especially when it was revealed Affleck played the entire film wearing a white sheet, like a kid dressing up as a ghost for Halloween, and completely silent (is it even him underneath the sheet?). Yet, appropriate for the subject matter, it’s haunting.

a ghost story rooney mara casey affleck

Given that he doesn’t talk (he sometime communicates with other ghosts in subtitled exchanges), it’s amazing how conscious of his inner life we wind up being. We get why he can’t move on, and we understand his perspective as the film goes on - although repeat viewings are in order. It’s a visual poem, with the only really prominent dialogue being a sobering monologue on mankind’s commitment to art and its futility by singer-songwriter Will Oldham (in a genius piece of casting). Lowery’s camera just watches people throughout, like the ghost himself, with an already infamous sequence featuring Rooney Mara grief-eating a pie in real-time.

Again, it could have been utterly insufferable, but it winds up being an absorbing ninety minutes, and one that casts a spell on its audience from the first frame. Impeccably shot (in 4:3 aspect ratio) by Andrew Droz Palermo, with a superb score by Daniel Hart, A GHOST STORY is the kind of film that demands patience and an open-minded approach from the audience. Yet, its notable how easy a watch it is despite how unconventional and slow it is. It may seem like not much is happening on screen, but after awhile, you start to realize a lot is actually happening, and the end product is something you won’t be able to shake.

Source: JoBlo.com

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