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REVIEW: A Ghost Story

Review by Dustin Heller

A Ghost Story is the new independent drama starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck.  Affleck spends the majority of the film under a bed sheet portraying a ghost.  I don’t write that to make light of it, but rather to highlight the sort of artistic expression used by writer/director David Lowery.  Lowery made a splash at the 2013 Sundance film festival with his directing debut film, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (which also happened to star Mara and Affleck); and he followed that up with the live-action adaptation of the Disney classic, Pete’s Dragon.  Lowery is quickly making a name for himself in Hollywood and is a young filmmaker on the rise and one to keep an eye on.  A Ghost Story is rated R for brief language and a disturbing image.

On the surface, the storyline is very simple as it follows the ghost of C (Affleck) as he returns home after being killed in an automobile accident to haunt the house lived in by him and his wife, M (Mara).  Through his eyes, we witness the mourning and sadness of M as she tries to move on and pick up the pieces of her shattered life.  As she begins to heal and move forward, C is still stuck in the house constantly searching closure that he can’t seem to find.  His journey takes him through the lives of other inhabitants of the house and across multiple generations, but his search for whatever it is that he’s looking for seems to be never-ending.

Art house film fans rejoice, A Ghost Story was made just for us!  Don’t be fooled by the title as this is definitely not your typical scary ghost movie or anything of the sort.  A Ghost Story is a haunting tale about loss, grieving and moving on in life.  It is a mesmerizing tale that is shot beautifully, but unfortunately will probably only be appreciated (and seen) by the hardcore art house crowd.  Even the look of the film is very artsy as Lowery shot the film in an aspect ratio of 1:33:1 which gives it a very confined and boxed-in feel.  The first half of the film is very moody and heart-wrenching; thanks in-part to a poignant score from composer Daniel Hart and an outstanding emotionally-charged performance from Rooney Mara.  The second half of the film delves deeper into the ghost’s side of the story, but is equally devastating.  There are some moments in the film that seem to drag on, but looking back after the fact, it really added substance and depth to the finished product.  Casual movie fans will probably find A Ghost Story to be slow and boring, but in my opinion, David Lowery has delivered one of the best films of the year and I hope it doesn’t go unnoticed.

Grade:  A-

A Ghost Story opens in select theaters on Friday, July 21

You can follow Dustin Heller on Instagram @eatindywatchindie.