After the Malickian gentleness of his debut Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and the Disney team up, mature family adventure Pete’s Dragon, David Lowry continues his run of delivering an intensely personal view of an oft-used genre with the profound, ceaselessly melancholy A Ghost Story.
Most known on the internet for being the film where Casey Affleck wears a kid’s Halloween costume, or the film where Rooney Mara eats an entire pie (though it looks more like a chocolatey pudding to me), the actual product is a film which seeks to show us that what matters is what you do within the confines of your own lifetime, that it is not your legacy which is important but what you do for your loved ones and yourself in the here and now. It’s not an especially new message but it is one which is presented in unflinching, frank and disturbing ways where your sense of time is questioned often, the helpless circling the drain of existence constantly biting at our protagonist’s heels.
The use of Affleck’s bed sheeted character may well be partly to attract attention for the film but it is quite surprising how much you barely notice him at points. It is a stark look but he almost becomes part of the furniture of the house. The framing often has him to the side but you concentrate on what is going on “in the moment”, be it Mara’s pie eating (I genuinely didn’t notice him for a good few minutes here), a family around their Christmas tree or a house party where what is surely going to be 2017’s best monologue is performed. It is not to say that Affleck is bad, you feel the weight of his silent emotion throughout, a physical performance from him (or his stand-in) which adds what is needed.
It is Interstellar by way of The Tree of Life with the odd horror film moment added as is likely expected. It never feels derivative however, it is a brave, uncompromising and daring film which has visuals which will remain with you after along with a pitch perfect ending which leaves you with a question you don’t mind being answered. If you give it time, which 2 walkouts in my screening suggest not all will, you will be rewarded with one of the year’s best films.
Oh and there’s a SOLID Production Company credit at the end. Bravo.