Review: A Ghost Story
Going into A Ghost Story I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. Going out of it I am still not entirely sure what I think of it, what it represents and the hardest thing of all is how I would rate it and who I would recommend it to.
Visually it looks great with the acting by Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck (the latter often acting underneath a sheet) works well in a minimalist kind of a way while the direction and script by David Lowery may be slow but it is also methodical and it just manages to have enough momentum to stop people getting bored and maintain an eerie atmosphere.
Essentially the plot is that Casey Affleck’s unnamed lead character dies in a car accident while his partner played by Rooney Mara has to deal with the aftermath. Instead of merely passing on Casey Affleck becomes a child’s version of a ghost underneath a sheet and is left haunting the house that the couple lived in together.
The visual concept of the sheet is clever one and the script plays with a lot of the tropes and conventions of the haunted house genre, while at the same time not really being a horror film. Essentially it’s a romantic drama but it is also about the nature of time, the stages of grief and about acceptance, albeit from the perspective of a ghost.
For the most part there is a cold, detached atmosphere with minimal dialogue, save for one scene at a party that contains a metaphysical rambling that goes on a little bit too long. However it is not enough to sink the film and there is plenty elsewhere to make up for it. Crucially in terms of length and pace the story does not overstay its welcome.
I saw this at Cinema City in Norwich during a Q & A hosted by Dr Vincent M Gaine, a lecturer who hosts the Philosophers On Film season there and this season is about grief. This was an ideal starting point for discussion as it was very open-ended and allowed for different interpretations.
Ultimately if what I just said put you off then don’t see this. Personally I commend Lowery for using the money he earned from making the Pete’s Dragon remake for Disney to create something that is clearly personal and offers a fascinating and original concept.
There is a lot to admire about A Ghost Story and I get the feeling it will be a cult classic in years to come, even if at the moment I am still figuring out what I think of it! If you want a break from a traditional genre story then this is worth a go. Just don’t expect any gruesome deaths, jump scares or big narrative twists!