A Ghost Story is more of an experiment than it is a plot-driven film. Writing a synopsis is challenging. There's not an awful lot to it. We have two central characters; both of who remain unnamed the entire film. IMDb lists them as M (Rooney Mara) and C (Casey Affleck). They're a couple madly in love, often embracing each other in endless hugs, but their seemingly perfect relationship takes an abrupt stop when C is involved in a fatal car crash that results in death. His death. C soon comes back as a white sheeted ghost, trapped in a nonlinear plane of existence and forced to watch as time passes and life continues without him. People come, people go, and C remains exactly where he's always been.
Director David Lowery makes a very deliberate choice to frustrate his audience. We're put through the slumps of existence, and it can be infuriating as an audience member. You're with these characters every step of the way, and sometimes those steps are slow and drawn out. He puts the quieter moments of life right into the spotlight. The technique is successful in its attempts at drawing you in and creating a whole-body experience, but the decision will turn a lot of viewers off. This and Song to Song had the two biggest walk outs of the festival. So many moments are drawn out and lengthy, often to needlessly extended degrees. I understand its importance and plot relevance, but can't avoid the feeling that this premise would work better as a half an hour short film than it does a 90-minute movie.
Yes, A Ghost Story sounds like it should be the most boring thing ever, but it's not. Certainly, this film isn't for everyone. My friend didn't like it, and it's safe to say the same goes for the magnitude of audience members who stormed out, but once the story starts to come full circle, it all comes together quite nicely. It's increasingly enjoyable as time goes on. The entire thing wraps up perfectly in an incredible, if not slightly abrupt third act that delves into somewhat of a time loop and poetically takes the film to unexpected, most welcome places. Even my friend said to me afterwards "if the whole film was like the third act, I probably would've enjoyed it more."
The biggest disappointment I found with A Ghost Story is that it suffers majorly from being overhyped. Since it's premiere in January, the film has been hailed as some kind of masterpiece. It's a good movie, yes, but a masterpiece? Not quite. It's fresh to have a movie experience quite like this one, but the film better suits a short format than a long one. I wish I loved this movie. I went in expecting to love this movie. Sadly, it just misses the mark.
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