David Lowery

Review: ‘A Ghost Story’ is a haunting, complex moviegoing experience

Director: David Lowery

Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara


Synopsis: In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife (IMDb). 

Rated: R

Year: 2017

Complete with sheet and dark eyeholes, a man’s restless spirit rises from the corner’s table. From there he begins a trippy journey where he learns about love, loss, and liberation. It sounds whacky, but David Lowery’s (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon) supernatural drama is deceptively simple and user-friendly.

There isn’t much going on in terms of story and aside from some haunting cinematography, the film is visually uncomplicated. Even its two leads (though they do solid work here) seem moot next to Lowery’s creative vision.

Recent Oscar winner Casey Affleck plays “C,” a musician (at least a wannabe one). Rooney Mara is “M.” Not much is known about this couple other than they live together in a small Texas house and share some semblance of a romantic bond.

Of course all that’s by design. Fewer distractions means viewers can more readily engage with A Ghost Story‘s rich, spiritual subtext and enjoy the imagination on display.

After unexpectedly biting the big one mere feet from their front patio, “C” returns home via the afterlife whereupon he discovers a grieving “M.” Though he reaches out to comfort his lamenting love, she feels nothing and has no idea he’s there.

We get an idea of just how badly “M” misses “C” during a five-minute take where she buries her sorrow in an entire chocolate pie. Lowery’s questionable tendency to linger in moments like this for what feels to be an eternity will surely test the patience of even the artiest artists in the audience. Thankfully, those moments are few and far between.

“M” even brings home unidentified men to console her, much the chagrin of our silent specter, whose dismay causes the lights to flicker. “M” eventually moves out and on with her life; her lover’s snared soul staying put within the confines of the house he so loved in life.

It’s simultaneously surprising and refreshing just how much Lowery gets us to care about a blanket with holes in it simply by flipping the light switch a few times or having the ghost lean ever so slightly to the side. It’s a testament to the strong visual storyteller Lowery is.

As the sands of time shift on, a lonely “C” witnesses both the future and past of his home, with very few constants save for the occasional subtitled exchange with the apparition haunting the neighboring lot. This is just one example of how Lowery cleverly combines different religious beliefs into a fresh, inventive vision of the afterlife that hasn’t been depicted before in cinema.

Lowery’s decision to curve the edges of the frame gives off the illusion that the whole thing was shot on home video. This gives A Ghost Story a more intimate feel and further highlights the director’s unique creative vision.

Grade: A

What did you all think of A Ghost Story? Was it too artsy, fartsy for you? Let us know in the comments below!

‘A Ghost Story’– Video Review

A Ghost Story is quietly one of the best films of 2017. Hear more about it in our video review!

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