Synopsis: In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.
Stars: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, McColm Sephas Jr., Kenneisha Thompson, Grover Coulson, Liz Cardenas Franke, Barlow Jacobs
Director: David Lowery
Running Length: 92 minutes
TMMM Score: (4/10)
Review: I guess the synopsis should have tipped me off that A Ghost Story was going to be a tough one. Billed as a “singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence” sure sets a high bar for movie filmed with no fanfare in a tiny Texas town. I’m sure art-house audiences will gobble this one up as their latest existential exercise for bragging rights to their friends that chose to see Spider-Man: Homecoming instead. Still, with its maudlin musings and one endless shot of pie consumption A Ghost Story might have something to say but it takes literally forever to do it.
The first half of A Ghost Story centers on C (Casey Affleck, The Finest Hours) and M (Rooney Mara, Side Effects), a young couple that doesn’t have much or say much. Still, when C dies in a car accident just outside their house, Affleck and Mara have given us more than a general idea of the depth of their connection. M arrives at the hospital to identify the remains and after the sheet is lifted stares in shock at the body of her husband. Shortly after she pulls the sheet over C’s face and leaves the body rises and hops off the gurney, with the sheet cleverly falling into place thus creating the ghostly figure seen in the poster and trailers.
Strangely tied to the house once called home, the ghost remains through the years long after M has moved on with her life. A host of different people live in the house over time. A single mother. A flock of hipsters. When the house is destroyed there’s a brief passage of interest where the ghost travels forward and then back in time, folding back on itself to see previous scenes from a different perspective.
It would be easy to say I was in a funk the day I screened this or even easier to just claim general stupidity but it just wouldn’t be true. This is a hard movie to sit through, much less love or even like. There’s literally a scene where the ghost watches paint dry, not to mention the never-ending take of Mara eating the majority of a pie someone brought over to comfort her. The moment you feel like the scene can’t possibly continue, it goes on for another six minutes. The significance of Mara having the house to herself and gorging herself on food until she’s sick isn’t lost on me…but why keep audiences at bay long after the message has been received?
Director David Lowery used the money he made from the remake of Pete’s Dragon to fund this long gestating project and I wish he would have just bought his mom a house like other directors who hit the big time have done. I loved what Lowery did with Pete’s Dragon and the charming characters that sprang forward fully formed but A Ghost Story feels like a deliberate step back, suggesting a director desperately trying to remind us of his indie roots.