A Ghost Story Review

In a world of blockbusters it is easy to forget that film can be art. We can ignore plot and/or characters and look at a film as an art piece if in the right hands. This can be very obnoxious like Jean-Luc Godard’s Film Socialisme or it can be powerful like Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life. I have long been a bit of an apologist for these kinds of films but can readily see why some people hate them. The new film A Ghost Story falls in this vein and it is an extremely unusual movie.

The narrative is very simple. Basically a man played by Casey Affleck dies and returns as a schoolyard style ghost with a sheet and 2 eye-holes covering him. He then proceeds to follow his wife played by Rooney Mara looking throughout time for something important. We don’t know what but he watches and waits.

This movie is not for everyone. Just to give you some flavor there is a good 5 minute scene (at least) where Rooney Mara eats a pie and the ghost stares at her.

A Ghost Story was directed by David Lowery who did the enchanting Pete’s Dragon last year, and he is a filmmaker to watch. The movie looks stunning (cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo should be praised). It’s as gorgeous as anything Emmanuel Lubezki has done for Inaritu or Malick. I also loved it was shot with a unique aspect ratio to give it a vintage feel.

The film is also really short at 92 minutes so that helps you feel more tolerant of its artistic approach and lack of narrative.

My only flaw with the film is I’m not really sure what it is trying to say? It has something to do with being remembered and how life goes on without you but it feels like it was trying to say more than that and I didn’t get it. You could see the ambiguity as a good thing, but I was left a little befuddled by it.  I’ve been surprised with number of reviews claiming A Ghost Story as a powerful treatise on life and human nature  because I didn’t connect with it on that kind of emotional level.

But as a beautiful piece of art I admired it greatly and am still thinking about what it is trying to say and there’s something to that. I’m certainly glad I saw it.

A Ghost Story is not scary at all. If you come in expecting a horror movie you will be very disappointed. It is a pretty mild R rating with just a few swears and mild sensuality. So if it sounds like something might interest you give it a shot. If not then I doubt you will like it.

Overall Grade- B

If you have seen A Ghost Story let me know what you think it is trying to say? I would love your thoughts


10 thoughts on “A Ghost Story Review

  1. I also made the connection to the movie as a piece of art in my review, although I was not being entirely complimenrtary. A Ghost Story is more like an art installation. It belongs in a museum.

    I suppose there are exceptions but I should think that any movie in which I was “not really sure what it is trying to say” or that I “didn’t get” would earn a pretty harsh grade from me. You bestowed a solid B which is a pretty strong recommendation. I can appreciate you enjoyed the short length and the cinematography.

    I think I understood what it was trying to say. I just didn’t feel it did it in a way that moved me.

    1. I think there is something to say for an art piece with some ambiguity and that keeps you thinking. It’s one I haven’t been able to stop thinking about and what it’s trying to say

      1. Definitely. I have felt that way about certain movies. The words you used in your review conveyed a different response and that was what I didn’t understand. You clarified your point. I understand why you liked it now.

      2. Thanks. Most of that paragraph was trying to explain why I didn’t LOVE it like many of my friends (particularly 2 good friends) who it spoke too very personally. It didnt do that for me but as a curious art piece I admire it

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