Writing about David Lowery's A Ghost Story is no easy task. There is so much to say and yet there is so much that I want to avoid discussing in a review. The key to this film is to know as little as possible before taking your seat and allow the film to take you on a journey that I believe will stay with the viewer long after leaving the cinema.
The premise of A Ghost Story is simple with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara making up the couple who the story focuses on. When Affleck dies in a road accident, he returns as a ghost to watch over his lover, unable to interact with her but always present within their home. His return is not as a holographic CGI spectre but our ghost is rendered in the simple of childlike form of a man under a sheet. This depiction is a ludicrous idea and yet within the confines of this film works with a wonderful beauty and sadness. Also it must be noted That Affleck does some wonderful work in his ghostly form managing to portray emotion and great sadness as he glides around the home underneath his sheet.
At times A Ghost Story is uneasy viewing. This is created by Lowery's lingering camera that stays focused on our characters often longer than is comfortable. Early in the film our couple hold each other in bed and the camera watches them from above for a few short minutes but an unease is created as the viewer expects something to happen or the story to move on. Our expectations of rapid fire storytelling are usurped many times throughout the film and in particular during the much referenced 'pie scene'. Watching Rooney Mara eat a pie for 5 minutes may not sound like the most enticing reason to engage in a film but what transpires is a wonderful sequence highlighting the power of subtlety as Mara eats and goes through a range of emotion ranging from grief to anger and contemplation between spoonfuls. Certainly one of the scenes of the year and one that is unshakeable from my minds eye.
A Ghost Story's vision of an afterlife may be considered to be bleak and one that does marry up with my own, however there is much to ponder from a viewing from this wonderful film. While our ghost remains trapped in a purgatory like state the film examines loss, grief, lament, memory and explores time in a manner that will not fail to raise discussion. High ideas for a film that runs shortly over and hour and a half, but Lowery and his stars execute them in a manner that stirs the soul and many scenes remain in the mind long after viewing.
A Ghost Story is many things, it may well be one of my films this year, it is definitely a must see.