Hot Take: An original and artistic endeavor that requires some patience from you as the viewer. You may love it, you may hate it but it will definitely solicit a strong reaction.
Want to know whether or not your up for even the possibility of enjoying the experience of watching A Ghost Story? Early on in the film, after Casey Affleck’s character has died and becomes a voiceless shape under a sheet, we watch Rooney Mara’s character eat a pie… for 8 minutes. In context, it’s grueling and gutwrenching and relatable for anyone who has struggled with coping with grief. Out of context, it sounds silly. As A Ghost Story stretches out over 87 minutes, you must invest in observing much like the ghost does as the rest of the world moves on and continues on without him. It’s an exercise in patient observation which is odd to say since all watching a movie normally requires is observing but, in most cases, it is the movie’s ability to immerse you in the action, drama or comedy and perceive you are doing more than just observe that makes it a worthwhile experience. However, here, in A Ghost Story, the film just asks you to watch and feel.
If you told me A Ghost Story was your favorite movie of 2017 or you told me it was the worst movie of 2017, I wouldn’t try to convince you otherwise. Most of the time, when I see a great film, I’m ready to argue with anyone who thinks otherwise that they were mistaken. That’s not the case with A Ghost Story. The film requires a lot of the audience and if you went in not ready to meet those requirements, it’s likely you’re walking away feeling like everyone who had gushed over the film might have a screw loose. It’s a rare original piece of work to hit theaters and while never one anyone expected to rack up big bucks at the box office, the fact that it only lasted 7 weeks and never went wider than 329 theaters prevented the small budget ($100,000) A24 production from ever gaining any sort of traction. It still pulled in $1.535 million which was 15 times its budget so I guess you can call it a financial success on top of the critical acclaim it has achieved.
Having seen the film over a month ago, I’m not really sure what took so long for me to write this review. Part of me hoped A Ghost Story would get a second expansion and the review would be written at a more relevant time. That never happened. Part of it was probably being very mindful of what my thoughts really were of the film as it wasn’t a film that you digest immediately. Heck, I still haven’t completely digested it and might not until I view it again. To sum up the experience, A Ghost Story is beautifully shot and told with such simplicity, it’s hard to fathom how complicated the film ends up being emotionally. Whether you’ll like it or not is not for me to say but I can guarantee you that it should be the most unique and original movie experiences you have this year. Whether you find its uniqueness to be annoying or brilliant will be a matter of taste.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- That Pie Scene
The Rooney Mara pie scene has to be one of the most unique scenes I’ve seen in a film. It’s so subtle and basic yet so emotionally powerful. Part of you wants to laugh at how silly it seems until you really let yourself think about the gravity of it all. It’s this scene that helps ground the movie above all others. Plus, it looked like a really delicious pie.
- A Rare Experience
Like it or not, it’s hard to argue that A Ghost Story isn’t different. Different isn’t always good but it is refreshing and, for my money, it was good, too.
- The Score & Soundtrack
A Ghost Story has a great score and soundtrack that adds to the beauty and moodiness of the film.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Is It Really Casey Affleck Under That Sheet the Whole Time?
Not sure why but it’s a question you start asking yourself.