As mentioned by a character within a party scene, hollowing the atmosphere of joy and bringing an honest perspective to those around him, life and art is relatively futile. We go around believing we can change the world with our works when millennia down the line, it will all be dust. In the grand scheme of things, you have to question why we commit our energies and passions to such projects. Why thousands upon thousands of creative souls choose to dedicate their moments to capturing a story and showing it on the big screen. Why we still care and haven’t just stopped churning out production after production. Why hasn’t it all dissolved away from us?
Ah yes, the big question of Why.
David Lowery, director of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and, most recently, Pete’s Dragon, takes a stab at this question in A Ghost Story. Whilst some may argue that the vague elements of this unforgettable film tries to unpack life after death, you could definitely say it answers the question of why we make movies. Because what kinda life would it be without seeing A Ghost Story on the big screen? A rather un-lived one.
Starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, A Ghost Story revolves around a young couple, C & M, who live in an isolated house in some nondescript American town. When tragedy strikes and M dies, C has to come to terms with life without him. However, he is closer than she thinks, coming back to stalk the house as a bed-sheet ghost…
The premise borders upon ridiculous or too simple to sustain an hour and a half of your attention but David Lowery (ironically) fleshes out the idea until it is this engaging and (pardon the pun) haunting movie.
Shot, produced, and finalised within a year, A Ghost Story is a profoundly encompassing piece that dives into the depth of emotional grief, identity, and history without uttering more than a few lines. Powerful within its opulent delivery through silence, score, and shot layouts, Lowry’s story unfolds in a compellingly original manner. Using the aspect ratio to frame the tale in a curved box adds this nostalgic layer to the visual masterpiece like Polaroid snippets of time.
Lowery’s command of the camera-work is a work of art in itself. The fluidity of the camera and how it cares for the subject matter is astonishing. Keeping the camera rolling in ardent, poignant scenes for longer than expected or diving from the sky at the shock of a sound as though we were these inquisitive watchers. In fact, the atmospheric film makes you feel as though you were a ghost yourself, following our shrouded hero as peers, caught in the afterlife.
Rooney Mara has a particular scene that is certainly a test of skill and stomach. Her adroitness in acting is a mesmeric tour-de-force, steering you through a weighted arc that her character nearly silently goes through. As for Casey Affleck, bar a few scenes, he has to spend his time in a sheet and what’s so impossibly genius about that is that despite him covered completely for 90% of the film, Affleck can convey emotion impeccably. (I secretly hope it get’s nominated for Best Costume Design.)
A Ghost Story is a perfect metaphor for life. Transcending through time as our fabric fashioned friend becomes unhinged through moments of life, Lowery is astutely aware of the message he is conveying here. Grief, love, death, moving on, anger, rage, confusion – all diced with this uncertain yet beautiful humour – are facets of A Ghost Story rampant in this bemusing quiet. The captured colours and impressive detail, particular in the sound design and score, prove Lowery as, less a director, but more an artist – skilfully weaving his masterpiece.
A soulful indie drama that will melt gloriously within you, A Ghost Story is an incredibly unique cinematic venture, giving you meaning, spirit, and, most importantly, life.
A Ghost Story is on DVD & Blu-Ray now.