A GHOST STORY review by Patrick Hendrickson – David Lowery directs a haunting tale of loss

A GHOST STORY review by Patrick Hendrickson – David Lowery directs a haunting tale of loss

A GHOST STORY is a film about a lingering spirit who resides in his old home after a fatal car accident. The ghost being no longer bound by the constraints of time is able, perhaps unwillingly, to see how time goes on and on after his death.

Casey Affleck plays the main character, C, a young man who is killed in a car accident that rises from his autopsy table completely covered in a white sheet. C returns to the home he shared with his wife M, played by Rooney Mara. What follows is the passage of time shown through C’s perspective as decades pass for M, and even further. The title of this movie is slightly incorrect. The reason for this is that while there is very much a ghost involved, it is hard to say that any story is being told within this movie. There is not much of a plot here aside from the early moments when C is still alive.

This almost makes me wish that less of these scenes were in the movie or that maybe they could have come later. Simply having C wander around and leaving the audience guessing about nearly everything could have been interesting. This also might have further emphasized the theme of time present within A GHOST STORY. One of the more interesting occurrences is when C glances out of a window and sees another ghost next door. The two communicate silently for a few moments before going back to their own business. Later on after enough time has passed, this part of the story almost goes a bit further, but sadly ends up being the entirety of C’s interactions with this second ghost… and no others appear. It would have been interesting to see a little more of those two interacting or perhaps adding other ghosts into the mix.

One particularly interesting moment occurs immediately after C rises from his table and wanders around the hospital his body was taken too. He moves through the hallway before coming to brilliantly shining entrance or portal to… somewhere. C seemingly refuses this option and instead makes his way back to the house. Whether this shining door would have led to heaven or hell, or somewhere else, is not known. It can be assumed that the other ghost also refused to enter into this unknown place and this is the reason that the two of them are stuck endlessly waiting.

Another notable scene involves a house-party wherein an unnamed guest loudly spouts off about the inevitable expansion of the Sun which will swallow earth and leave all human creation destroyed. This is an odd scene and feels somewhat out of place considering C is looming overhead the entire time this drunken tirade is given. The connection this has to the rest of the movie seems to be a point in the speech wherein the guest uses the example of Beethoven’s music as something beautiful that humanity has created and which will last for hopefully a long time. C’s love and devotion for M seemingly is something that lasts for a long time as the only reason he seems to still be around is because of his desire to see a note she eventually leaves after moving away from the house.

A GHOST STORY is an artistic film that is poignant with a lot of potential to be moving. It moves slowly from scene to scene without much plot or development and this very likely would leave general audiences wanting more. To put it simply, this movie is not very “fun” to watch, but if the viewer is looking for a different or a more thoughtful experience then this would probably be a good choice. As a thought piece the production is sufficient in getting one’s mind wandering about a few themes or of the meaning of events present, but it does not offer many ideas on its own for the audience to consider. These prior scenes are examples of interesting ideas but they are not developed very much, leaving the majority of the analysis to be done by the viewer.

A GHOST STORY has been referred to as a meditative experience by other reviewers and this is an apt description of it. The issue is that it is not entirely entertaining or compelling to watch another person’s meditation. It is far more fulfilling to be the one experiencing that state of thoughtfulness. If something in this movie can strike someone hard enough to put them into a state of mindfulness then they will probably look more fondly on it than someone who was not affected in this way. I found C’s existence to be very solemn at times and several times I found myself wondering what he was feeling or why he was acting the way he was. I also found myself examining the concepts of time and loss that are present throughout, and writer/director David Lowery had to be doing something right for me to have that reaction.

A GHOST STORY is now playing in select theaters, goes wide July 28, 2017

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