Film Review: A Ghost Story

David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is a poignant meditation on grief, and indeed life itself. The film covers an expansive subject, but does so with style.

A couple who live together are beset by a tragedy. C returns in spirit form hoping to comfort M, but he struggles to connect with her. His new form takes him on a metaphysical journey…

Written and directed by David Lowery, A Ghost Story is an extensive exploration of themes delivered in a simple cinematic form. This is none more distinct than in the depiction of C as a ghost. The film does not rely on special effects, instead C wears a white sheet to depict his ghost form. At first instance this is humorous, yet the lack of technical effects is disarming. It promotes a lack of distraction from the film’s central themes that perhaps a more sophisticated rendering would not.

Akin to Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, A Ghost Story unfolds at a relaxed pace, allowing for atmosphere to develop. The most striking thing about the film is not the individual characters featured, but how the film speaks about life as a whole. On one level the film is about grief; the loss of a loved one and the effect this has. On a broader level however, this segues into the wider theme of loneliness of existence, and indeed each person’s place in both their time and wider history. The film becomes more compelling as it progresses, thanks to the questions that it asks. There is a section of the film which features a diatribe by a throwaway character. Although this serves to verbalise the film’s key themes, it feels an unnecessary intrusion. A Ghost Story performs best in its subtlety.

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara both offer good performances in the film. Nevertheless, the highest praise goes to David Lowery for creating such an honest and compelling film.

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