A Ghost Story Movie Review
Take a recent Oscar-winning actor, put a sheet over him and let him wander around a house for 90 minutes and you have A Ghost Story, an oddly engrossing if ultimately empty drama with the worst ghost special effects ever put to film.
Casey Affleck stars as a dead guy who haunts his house long after his widow (Rooney Mara) moves away, though “haunt” is a strong word. He mainly just stands there and watches time fly by, a plot device guaranteed to bore most people to the same fate and fascinate the other 1%.
A movie with no plot that serves more as a technical experiment than anything else—and features a visual effects budget that literally entails cutting holes in a sheet, putting said sheet over an extra and claiming that said extra is the most recent Best Actor winner—is a movie that shouldn’t be any good, but writer/director David Lowery manages to pull off the feat nonetheless. Shot in a constrained 1.33:1 aspect ratio, A Ghost Story looks as though some dude snuck into a house with a video camera and filmed Mara eat an entire pie in a single take. But it’s a beautiful film, both technically and otherwise, and Lowery should be commended.
Still, A Ghost Story isn’t the powerhouse some were anticipating. The first 30 minutes are stunning—Lowery taps into the emotional connection between Affleck and Mara, even in death—but as soon as Mara disappears, the film loses some of its emotional connection with the audience. Because, after all—and the perfectly fine but utterly predictable climax proves this—there isn’t as much substance to the film as Lowery would want you to believe. It’s a technical masterpiece, but an empty one.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.