A Ghost Story

Deep and Beyond


07 July 2017| No Comments on A Ghost Story     by Sean Chavel


I was a skeptic who didn’t think it was going to amount to anything, and then my patience paid off. Immediately artsy but undeniably beautiful, A Ghost Story uses many long shots to develop an aura, and one shot of the wife eating a pie in grief that calls way too much attention to itself to the point I wanted to cry, it’s “A Boring Story!” Don’t worry, the shot ends. Yes, it tested my patience terribly, but admittedly, by the end I think that shot serves as a paradigm. Every shot matches up symbolically with something seen later.

There are a few mystifying moments that reaches for the cosmos, that stir wonder within us, such as moments did in David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” and Terrance Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” Then the film settles into the simple story of the husband (Casey Affleck) dying and returning as a ghost. The wife (Rooney Mara) gets a few long sequences to get through the transition of being a new widower while her ghost husband watches her. The ghost is presented to us, in conceit, with a white bed sheet thrown over him with eye holes cut out. Crucially, we become aware that every scene of the film is seen through his point of view.

This is not a horror film, but a meditative, spiritual journey. The only anxiety one feels is the need for it to explain itself already. Like I said, I doubted it. There is very little dialogue in the film, and then pointedly, years ahead, one long monologue made by a new character. A party guest (Will Oldham) pontificates about time and death, suggesting that all persons on Earth try to leave something of achieved purpose behind them that is worth something. Yet despite that, most everything dissolves in the annals of time. Believe it, for this monologue rings to be correctly foreshadowing.

“A Ghost Story” eerily arrives at places I never thought it would go. I felt levitated, is the word. Getting there, well, it is the kind of arduous watch that is patience testing. Nevertheless, I felt grateful pondering it over after it was done. The performances are not showy, and in their simple, quiet ways turn out to be just right for the film. There are flickers of beauty and genius if you stay with it long enough. And those long shots? Well, the ghosts observes time with what they choose to stare long enough with concentration.

Directed by David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”), he films his tale in a square box ratio with the edges rounded off and going low-light with granular imagery. Miraculously, this adds to its mystifying quality, like when we were six years old and we looked around the house through a peephole trying to see ghosts of our own.

92 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Ghost” (1990); “After Life” (1999, Japan); “The Others” (2001); “Primer” (2004).

A Ghost Story_2017 FlickMinute Review

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


There are No Comments about this post

Add Yours!

You must be logged in to post a comment.