A Ghost Story: NZIFF Review
Director David Lowery's A Ghost Story is a very simple story, and yet, in parts, can be equated to Terrence Malick's Voyage Of Time.
Centring on Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara's unnamed duo, the film is the story of Casey Affleck's man who is killed in a car crash near his house. Bid farewell by Mara's character at the morgue, the white sheet drawn stiffly and quickly back onto the body, Affleck's character sits starkly up and heads back home.
Still covered in the white sheet, but with two eye holes now adorning it (akin at times to looking like an elephant as the drapes hang), the ghost stays around the house, watching Mara's character, and then when she moves on, ultimately observing those who head to their former home.
Stretched on a micro-budget and with the eeriness factor high, A Ghost Story is laced with atmosphere and a mournful tone that drags into the existential. As the Ghost wanders around, the stripped back visuals are blatantly hypnotic. Essentially just a sheet, it's somewhat intriguing to note that you end up projecting your own internal expressions onto the Ghost and there are times where you almost imagine there are tears flowing under the sheet.
Granted, there's a slow lyrical touch to the rhythms of A Ghost Story, which won't be for everyone, and a long shot of Rooney Mara's character simply eating a pie that's been delivered to her bereft home may push the limits somewhat of those who feel its artful folly.
But it's in the execution of the existential, the way it plays with structure and in its pursuit of the poignancy of loss that A Ghost Story manages to thrive, and ultimately soar. As the Ghost watches the world around him, the elegaic score and the incredible use of sound help the film to transgress its.physical limitations and budgetary constraints.
There will be some who dismiss the mood piece for its ambitions, its 1:33:1 aspect ratio and on whom the subtleties will be lost, but the brooding and ponderous piece is a singular experience. Its use of time and its execution thereof make for interesting bedfellows and provide much debate after the film's gone and finished.
If anything, A Ghost Story captures the futility and inevitability of loss, the sadness of those left behind and posits that a house is not a home without those who live within. It's an incalculably beautiful film that aches as well as it plays out, and it's utterly mesmerising.