After the success of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013), David Lowery reunites Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in a time-travelling, existential yarn about the dislocation of grief.
Questioning why we become so attached to our sense of home as well as our complex feelings towards the recently deceased, A Ghost Story is disarmingly thought-provoking. The first act might as well be a treatise on acting and performance: Lowery places his ghost within the intermediary space between the film’s characters and its audience, and by doing so, neatly dismantles the fourth wall.
The film is set in the liminal half-light of dusk and dawn (its low-fi noise is faultlessly captured on a 16mm lens), producing the limited vision of someone who might be looking out at the world through peepholes cut out of a bedsheet.
Lowery captures the muteness of experiencing the world as if from beyond the grave during scenes of near silence, scenes which would have dragged if helmed by anyone else. It is obligatory that the audience be completely invested in the central performances, and it is safe to say the triumvirate have delivered on a very ambitious premise.
Admittedly, the central conceit becomes slightly heavy-handed when Lowery’s ghost encounters a pub philosopher who dwells a little too long on the obsession all artists have with their legacy. And, for the film, this is pretty much a self-evident truth – shot within a very retro 4:3 TV aspect ratio, Lowery’s timeless ghost story has already cast a lasting imprint of its own.
Channelling the spirit of Terrence Malick, Lowery has achieved a work with transcendent impact. Fascinating in its representation of non-linear time, focalisation of narrative and meditation on grief, A Ghost Story is sure to cast its spectral presence long after the credits roll.
CAST: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
WRITER: David Lowery
DIRECTOR: David Lowery
SYNOPSIS: A recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.