In the name of full disclosure, I need to fess up to the fact that I did not know exactly what A Ghost Story was supposed to be all about. The title seems pretty straight forward. Okay, cool. Two talented actors are attached to co-lead this project, Oscar nominatee Rooney Mara and Oscar winner Casey Affleck. Great. Aside from that, it was more of a blind date of sorts. Well, next time I’ll be sure to at least pay attention to at least what the genre is, as well as what it ISN’T.
A young couple, played by Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, lead a typical life in a small home. Tragedy soon strikes leaving M (Mara) a mournful widower. The death of C (Casey Affleck) has left her lost and abandoned emotionally. She must now return to their home that they once shared to pick up the pieces and go on with her life. While C has died, he has yet to pass on. He still exists as a paranormal entity that wanders their home. As a voyeur in what was once the place he called home, C watches helplessly as M reconciles with her feelings and moves on. The story continues play out in this house even though its inhabitants are no longer present…at least not in the normal sense. C exists still only because he doesn’t know how to move on. A Ghost Story is all about reconciling ones feelings and moving on.
The first thing that needs to be said is that this movie falls into the category of extremes. You’ll either love this movie or you’ll most likely hate it. There isn’t much of an area of in between to exist in here. Director David Lowery takes quite a few creative and artistic leaps of faith here in the hopes that the masses will see things his way. A Ghost Story is more of a cerebral cinematic experience than what most might expect. Billed as a drama, fantasy, romance, you can just throw out any hopes and wishes for those other kinds of ghost stories (ya know that maybe also fall into the thriller or horror genre). This is all about the artistic experience from the music, to the Broadway stage-like acting performances, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Instagram-ish style of filming that was used. I’m talking full fledged square aspect ratio, funky filters kind of stuff. Sure that’s cool and all but watching a 90 minute video of it feels excessive.
As for the acting. I suppose for the 10 to 15 minutes of screen time these two actors have in the entire movie, they’re pretty good. Yeah so don’t expect to get a lot of face time with them. You’ll spend most of your time staring at an old school white sheet with the eyes cut out. Was Casey Affleck really under there? Who knows. As for the story itself, it’s okay, and I’m being gracious here and grading on a curve of effort and intent. It’s clear to see what David Lowery was trying to do but it was even clearer that he wanted his artistic vision to eclipse anything and everything else.
At the end of the day, David Lowery couldn’t get out of his own way. Rooney Mara was just okay as the pained love interest. Casey Affleck was an actual ghost in every sense of the word. The stylized filming was more of a distraction than anything. While there are a few interesting moments scattered about, I cannot in good conscience tell others to go see this in the theater (especially after knowing how it ends). I say wait for this to come to home video or maybe Instagram will run a promo where you can watch it on the social media network for free. A Ghost Story is just too square for me to recommend.