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kevin l. lee
film PRODUCER  •  screenwriter  •  critic

RT Tomatometer: 90%

Grade: 10/10

And to make the film feel even more intimate, Lowery puts the film together in a 1.33:1 (or 4:3) aspect ratio, with rounded corners. As opposed to normal films that have a widescreen, A Ghost Story almost looks like a box, with the rounded corners giving it almost an Instagram vibe. It makes the film feel smaller, private, sensitive, and more precious.

A Ghost Story is an ambitious poem by Lowery. It’s a beautiful exploration of life, death, and time writ large on the big screen, almost in service to philosopher directors like Terrence Malick. But it’s also a film that I would recommend to probably only three or four people in my entire social group space. It’s a film thoroughly comprised of long single takes that last at least five minutes per take, and they’re the kind of takes where the camera doesn’t even move. It asks a lot of questions about our purpose in this universe, if there is any, and it certainly doesn’t have the answers, because no human being does. With Affleck and Mara giving grounded performances in this fantastical tale, Lowery delicately blends existentialism, spiritualism, and the cosmos together in a meditative film that you may not understand but will surely remember.

directed by: David Lowery

written by: David Lowery

starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara

"The entire decision to have [Casey Affleck] look the way he does may seem silly and ridiculous at first, but it is quite an effective way to find a grey area between human and object. The ghost ends up as an object with human behaviors, almost as if [he] is constantly reaching for humanity."

It doesn’t take long before C dies in a car accident offscreen, and swiftly, within a single still shot, becomes the ghost we see on the poster. The transformation is sudden, perfect, and bizarrely realized in the best way possible. The rest of the movie unfolds as almost a window to the passage of time, helplessly watched by C’s ghost. He watches M mourning over the death of her husband, to M moving out of the house, to the subsequent owners moving into the house, to the ones after that, and then to the ones after that. And I found the entire film to be heartbreaking. Lowery beautifully exhibits the sense of time passing by through organic editing. At one minute, C’s ghost is watching a birthday celebration, and the minute he turns the corner, the house is fully decorated with a Christmas tree and stockings. From C’s perspective, things go by in the blink of an eye. Thirty minutes in, the film starts to get its idea across to the audience: the sadness of C having no choice but to stand there and watch the world pass by him. And for the director to have the camera do exactly what C is doing, which is to have it just passively watch... It’s the most beautiful rendition of helplessness and loneliness I have seen in years.

​​​This film is about a dead man walking around, covered by a large white bed sheet with two holes cut out like a Charlie Brown ghost costume. And it’s really profound. A Ghost Story is the epitome of an independent film, an artsy experimental title that young bold filmmakers and film students would love. If every movie’s script is like a book, then this one is more like a poem.

David Lowery is one of the best “newcomer” directors, making a name for himself in the industry. His very first film was Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a film almost nobody saw due to its slow pace but rewarding emotion and art. Just like Saints, A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as a couple with reserves and issues too personal to openly talk about, or frankly just not necessary for the film to explore. All we need to know is this couple is not tightly woven together. We don’t even know their characters’ names in the film; they’re credited as C and M respectively in the end credits.

​‘A Ghost Story' Review:

Either the most boring or the most beautiful film of the year

Yes, Affleck stays under that bed sheet about 95% of the time, and believe it or not, you can just see the humanity behind that sheet. From the way C slowly turns his head to how he sits down on a couch, Affleck conveys emotion like desperation and defeat through simple physical ticks. Even the ghost’s eyes show so much innocence, since they are curved at certain moments in the film and overall have such a simple design. The entire decision to have C look the way he does may seem silly and ridiculous at first, but it is quite an effective way to find a grey area between human and object. The ghost ends up as an object with human behaviors, almost as if C is constantly reaching for humanity.