There’s nothing like a good ghost story to kickstart our anticipation for the best holiday of the year… Halloween! But, is A Ghost Story — now on digital download, DVD and Blu-Ray — going to be a must-see or a must-skip?
For starters, A Ghost Story is not your usual haunted tale with spooks around every corner that have the heart racing and your hands sweating. Instead, it goes deeper and attempts to answer to pretty existential questions such as why are we here and what happens to us when we’re not?
The pedigree is also a cut above as it comes from director David Lowery, who recently gave us Pete’s Dragon and also delivered the stunning Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. It stars recent Oscar winner Casey Affleck (for Manchester by the Sea) and two-time Academy Award nominee Rooney Mara (Carol and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). The latter is known to us solely as “M” and the former named only “C.”
C dies tragically in a car accident and returns to the home they were about to move out of their home. He returns in the form of a ghost, only he’s draped in a white sheet, complete with the eyes cut out! What C sees is a wife grieving intensely until she summons the courage to leave their home and move on, literally and figuratively. Only C remains and observes the new residents as he obsesses with trying to find a note his wife hid in one of the house’s walls.
That’s it… that’s the plot, people. But, that’s not that is all to the film. Like we stated, it goes deep and gives audiences an emotional rollercoaster on many other levels. Lowery uses a slew of long takes and purposely moves the needle slowly from beginning to end. For those who do not mind this type of pacing, it is a study in cinematic patience. For example, there is the famous pie scene where we get to see Mara’s character work her way through an entire desert while she cries in overwhelming sorrow. If that is something you think you can stand as a viewer, then by all means dive in to A Ghost Story and prepare to be moved in the most surprising of ways.
It is also fascinating from Affleck’s position. After all, as the title suggests, it is his story. As such, Lowery can play with the concept (and notion, really) of time. What seems like years to many, feels like moments to our titular haunter, who is stuck in what seems like an everlasting circle of self awareness that must hold the key to his moving on to the afterlife… that is if there even is one!
A Ghost Story is an interesting little film. No, it won’t amp up the haunts as we get ready for All Hallow’s Eve at the end of the month. But, it is an exercise in what film can do and why it is a medium that still compels us after over a century.
The bonus feature that stands above all others is A Ghost Story and the Inevitable Passing of Time. As you can tell from my thoughts on the film itself above, this is a fascinating featurette that delves into the concept of time and what it means to be alive within that framework. The set-up is a “roundtable at a campfire” discussion by the cast and crew that adds some serious insight into the conceptual end of the making of this movie.
We also adore when a film’s composer gets a spotlight on the Blu-Ray bonus features, so you can imagine our joy when witnessing A Composer’s Story, which focuses on the stellar work that Daniel Hart did adding his ambiance to this tale.
Also, given that A Ghost Story has such a rich, filmmaker-driven aesthetic to it, at some point viewers are going to want to check out the Audio Commentary with Director David Lowery, Cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo, Production Designer Jade Healy, and Composer Daniel Hart.
Film Grade: B
Bonus Features: B