Ghost Story Movie Review
Ghost Story Movie Review Metadata
Indie films are known for making their mark in meshing genres and styles to create a cinematic experience that is unique and thought provoking. Then there’s A Ghost Story.
“Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife, only to find that in his spectral state, he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence.”
Well, damn. Let’s break this down (synopsis courtesy of Google).
a white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife…
Poorly. He is the worst comforter that ever stalked his wife while dead. When not patting her on the shoulder, he’s knocking books from shelves. Super comforting, jerk.
…he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away.
HE DIED. Did he honestly expect her to dress in widow’s weeds, live in a house she hated, and mourn his existence forever? Christmas on a cookie, move on already. Getting angry because your widow is finding happiness? She deserves a better ghost, dude.
Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the enormity of existence.
A cosmic journey would imply that he leaves. He doesn’t. He remains in the house, and time slips past him as it does with the dead. He watches the lives of everyone else moving in and out, and it’s creepy. It’s not creepy in the traditional haunting sense, but that creepy that comes from the guy sitting across you on the subway staring at your breasts from behind dark glasses. The only enormity would be the longest, most mansplainy monologue from The Prognosticator (Will Oldham), to another character about why her potential career as a writer is pointless because she’s going to die one day.
Eff that guy.
This move is light on dialogue (except for The Mansplainer), which would be perfectly fine IF ANYTHING WAS HAPPENING. I have sat through lectures on the history of the comma that in retrospect were absolutely thrilling. There are scenes in A Ghost Story where the characters are barely mumbling. There are interminable swatches where Rooney Mara eats pie or Rooney Mara listens to music or Rooney Mara packs books.
And for what?
Heck if I know.
Our ghost, C (Casey Affleck, because it’s cool to name characters after the names of the actors, right?) stands and watches like the weirdest, most obvious creeper that ever creeped. Kitschy with shades of Halloween (1978), it’s the most passive ghost we stop caring about. When he does get active, he is unnecessarily destructive, and against a family that’s done nothing to him. It. Makes. No. Sense.
I’ve spent more words on this review than are in the entire movie. You have to be a David Lowery fan, or maybe a Terrence Malick Fan (I’m a fan of neither) to appreciate the nothingness that sucks time from your life and at least the price of a matinee from your wallet. I’m not disappointed that it’s not a horror film, I’m disappointed there’s no FILM here. A Ghost Story is just a better produced film school senior no-budget project trying super hard to hammer in the lessons of atmosphere and silent narratives and failing.
I want movies to tell a story. There’s no story here, just 87 minutes of checking your watch.
A Ghost Story is rated R for some artsy swears (impressive considering the lack of dialogue), an artsy mass murder, and Casey Affleck looking artsy while dead.