An often jaw-droppingly audacious and singular piece of work, A Ghost Story follows a married couple (Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara) as their subdued lives are thrown into turmoil after he’s killed in a car accident – with the bulk of the movie detailing Affleck’s character, now a ghost underneath a sheet, as he helplessly observes his former paramour attempt to move on. Filmmaker David Lowery makes his less-than-mainstream intentions apparent right from the get-go, as A Ghost Story, which generally moves at a glacial pace, boasts an intensely idiosyncratic execution that’s reflected in its myriad of art-house-friendly attributes – including an oddball visual style and an emphasis on long, static takes. (The latter is, at the outset, something of a hurdle to overcome, with, especially, a four-minute long shot of Mara’s figure gloomily eating a pie testing one’s patience.) It’s clear, then, that A Ghost Story begins its transformation into a haunting and often unbearably sad endeavor once Affleck’s spirit returns home, as Lowery infuses much of the movie’s midsection with a melancholic tone that’s heightened by one’s growing sympathy for the admittedly low-rent apparition (ie his inability to do much of anything besides stand and watch is nothing short of devastating). Lowery’s decision to put his own spin on many of the touchstones associated with ghost-centric stories perpetuates the engrossing vibe (eg the apparition can’t leave the property, the apparition throws a temper tantrum, etc, etc), and there’s little doubt, as well, that Lowery’s progressively outré approach paves the way for a seriously hypnotic third act. The surprising and downright inexplicable final stretch ultimately cements A Ghost Story‘s massive, impressive success, and it’s clear that Lowery has delivered a completely original drama that’s often as engrossing as it is affecting.
**** out of ****