A Ghost Story Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to spend the entire summer! With a movie theater, a bowling alley, an arcade, and delicious food and drinks, you can have a fun summer day without reaching too deep into your checkbook!

Another A24 movie has gone wide in Arizona, so let’s talk a little bit about it! There were only a few reasons I wanted to check out A Ghost Story. I wouldn’t say that I was excited for it, but I did want to check it out. The first reason was because of the reaction it was getting. Everything from festivals to early reviews said it was fantastic, so I was intrigued. Next, it’s a film from A24, so it had to have some sort of edge that would make it stand out, and A24 has probably been the most consistent studio over the past few years. Finally, I love the cast and crew. Casey Affleck is coming off his first Oscar win, and I love Rooney Mara. David Lowery is the director of A Ghost Story, and he directed Affleck and Mara in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a movie I liked. This is the first time I’ve realized that by saying “Affleck and Mara” I could be talking about a few different people. That doesn’t have much to do with the review. I just wanted to throw that thought out there. Anyways, let’s talk about A Ghost Story and its ten minute-long pie-eating scene!

A Ghost Story is directed by David Lowery and stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. A man who has recently passed away has returned to the home he loves as a ghost only to experience that his wife has struggled to move on with life, yet still has. Time seems to be endless as he begins to witness multiple inhabitants of the home, and he realizes that he is seeing history in the making which allows him to ponder some of life’s biggest questions about existence.

This is an A24 film, so it’s probably not a shock to say that this movie is extremely well assembled. There’s an obvious directional choice that stands out that I won’t mention here just because I was a bit surprised to see it play out in the theater. It’s a fascinating choice, and I ended up loving it for the style of the film. It’s also wonderfully shot. It’s definitely a slow burn, but the patience in the shots and the way the camera is allowed to linger allows your mind to wonder a little bit about the questions it asks. That leads us to the next thing I loved about A Ghost Story which is how it asks questions to the audience then answers them with interpretations and viewpoints. It asks questions about existence and the true meaning of life and legacy. Just by reading the title, you might be thinking that this is a horror movie. Well, it’s kind of scary in a real sense. It’s not scary because demonic forces are possessing characters and threatening to kill families. It faces a legitimate fear that I think a lot of people experience which is the fear of loneliness and the fear or nothingness. It’s terrifying to think that nothing we do matters whatsoever, and life moves on without stopping for a second to think about you, but the way this film approaches this subject matter makes this one of the most thought-provoking movies I’ve seen this year. Unless you and your friends are huge film fans, this probably isn’t a movie you’re going to see randomly walking into the theater on a Saturday night, but I do think that if you gather a few friends up to check it out, you’ll surely get a conversation out of your time in the theater.

Though this is definitely a well made movie, I think it has a couple of issues. To me, they’re issues that this film faces because of its concept. It’s a concept that could easily fill a short, but begins to struggle when it becomes a feature-length film. Though I love moments that allow the story to breathe by lingering on certain shots, there are way too many moments that unnecessarily linger for too long without a payoff. One example is the ten-minute unbroken shot of Rooney Mara eating a pie. I understand what Lowery is going for with this scene, but is it really necessary, or was it just a way to fill the film up to 90 minutes? There are so many more efficient ways to portray emotion without isolating your audience. I also never connected with the characters. I get that I probably never connected with the characters because making characters who have almost nothing to them helps the feeling of existential meaninglessness proving that we’re all nobodies who will be forgotten, but I would have loved to connect to these characters to give us the dynamic of a juxtaposition to meaninglessness. In short terms, if the audience cared about these characters the way they cared about themselves, spouses, brothers, sisters, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends, would have the on-screen character’s life been so meaningless? I don’t think so. Finally, there’s a certain moment in this film that I love and hate at the same time. It’s a piece of dialogue that absolutely fits the tone of the movie, and it’s a moving and idealistic monologue, but it’s also very in-your-face. For a movie that remains subtle and visually driven to convey its messages and thoughts, this certain scene seemed to push everything else in the film out-of-the-way, and I didn’t think it fit.

Overall, A Ghost Story is a very well-assembled movie. It’s beautifully shot and directed and makes some very interesting artistic choices. As a piece of art, A Ghost Story is fantastic and it has the same effect as some of the best art out there that makes people have interpretive conversations about general overall meanings or more refined meanings in certain scenes, lines, or shots. It’s great at creating a conversation topic and provoking thought about its existential themes. I wouldn’t consider it a typical horror movie, as you may assume from the title, but there is true horror to it in the terrifying idea that all time holds for us is loneliness and meaningless nothingness. There are certain aspects of this film that felt stretched and unnecessary, and I wish I would have had a tighter connection to the characters to counter the idea of the futility of life and give me a reason to wish that the character’s life meant something, but artistically this is a unique movie. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d suggest checking it out just because I don’t think it’s a very accessible movie to the public, but if you’re really dying to ponder the meaning of life on a rainy night, it’s worth a stream at home. I’m going to give A Ghost Story a 7/10.

Will you be checking out A Ghost Story? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it’s Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm