A Ghost Story review; A symphony of tenderness and meaning

Imagine those who left us behind still sit beside us at the dinner table and watch over us as we sleep. David Lowery’s evocative A Ghost Story is a first look into the melancholic and soul-defining existence of the after-life. Even with a distinctive visual style which captures the expansive nature of the real life and the after-life, the film is a deeply personal journey of grief, loss and peace. It’s difficult to explain the film. Both serene and strikingly poignant, A Ghost Story blends realism with the surreal so often that it transcends the boundaries of traditional cinema. Wherever life went, the after-life was all there. By risking to alienate the part of us that still grapples with the seemingly absurd ideas of his film, Lowery ultimately trusts us to find spiritual healing. And what a way to do it.

Casting Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck made a whole lot of sense. Both of them work best with quiet, subtle feelings of melancholy and sadness. That internal grief and yearning was exactly what was needed to get Lowery’s tone across. M’s (Rooney Mara) turmoil was difficult to watch. A scene which lasted a good five minutes or more was fixed on her sitting on the floorboards and stuffing her face with pie while holding back tears. It was unbearably long and it feels as if the film didn’t want to dull down what grief felt like; An endless linger of pain and suffering. When we come to Casey Affleck, we see the unique perspective that A Ghost Story offers. C (Casey Affleck) roams around beneath a single, white draping sheet with two black eye-holes for most of the film. It is weird but so very captivating.  As the ghost of C roams between crowded rooms and lonely corners, his incongruous presence ironically feels like the only constant. His internal desperation to connect with the world around him leaves him only more isolated. Behind the impenetrable and emotionless face of a white sheet, A Ghost Story finds immense feeling and expression. No journey of self-actualization and grief is more intriguing than this and regardless of what your beliefs may be, A Ghost Story is one that speaks to all.

Among portraits of stark desolation, A Ghost Story’s most beautifully profound one is the force of time. A moment can mean a lifetime; A lifetime, in turn, can mean nothing. The film’s dual approach is seen everywhere from characters to setting to tone. I felt overwhelmed by the broader complexities at play here. With visually arresting scenes that cut up and stick different timelines together, Lowery’s film is the first to truly encapsulate the idea that we are literally always beside ourselves; All of us want to see what we mean to others when we’re gone. What we do everyday, at every infinitesimal moment, can mean something. Nothing will last forever, but we have the chance,at least for some time, to mean something in our small, uniquely personal way. And maybe if we can be at peace with that, then there’s beauty to be found in life. Make what you will of the film, there is no doubt that there has been no other film that portrays ghosts as complex and feeling creatures with an identity-crises; Ghosts have feelings too okay 😢But seriously, no film has taken such abstract matters to heart. I found it to be an indescribable symphony of tenderness and meaning.

 

Rating: 9/10  Far from being pretentious, it is deeply moving.

 

 

 

11 Comments Add yours

  1. katelon says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful review. This film has intrigued me since I first read about it. I wondered what people would make of Casey’s “acting”, as he is beneath a sheet with no words, no facial expressions, etc.

    In my spiritual work, I have worked with people who have died but not moved on. Some are afraid of moving on, some have unfinished business with the living and so erroneously think they need to stay around to finish it, there are many reasons. Usually, I just help them move on so they can receive healing, more learning and move on to other things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah haha but he does appear as himself in a couple of scenes. That’s great work that you do to help those who grieving to let go and be at peace. Hope you’ll get a chance to watch the film and would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. katelon says:

        I don’t work with the grieving, I work with those who have died but not moved on 🙂

        Like

  2. Raney Simmon says:

    Hmmmm… sounds like an interesting movie. Might have to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely is! I can’t say everyone will like it, but with an open mind I think you’ll find it interesting 🙂

      Like

      1. Raney Simmon says:

        I try to be open minded when it comes to watching things.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Keith says:

    I adore this film. I saw it twice on the big screen, the second time followed by an extremely interesting conversation with David Lowery. Can’t say enough about it.

    Like

  4. I liked the story but I found it awfully slow. That’s the only flaw i found

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it despite finding it slow. It was abit too slow for me as well,but part of what makes it so unique is probably the fact that it allows us the time to think and dwell in the impressions of the film 🙂

      Like

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