★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki
Love. Time. Death.
We will encounter all three of those things in our lives, whether we want it or not.
Love is the thing we yearn for. Time is what we wish we had more of. And Death is what some of us fear most.
And all three of things are at the center of A Ghost Story, a beautifully-made masterpiece. The film focuses on a married couple: C (played by Casey Affleck) & M (played by Rooney Mara). C is a struggling musician, while M stays at home. They live in an old & small house in the suburbs. One night, they are disturbed by a noise near their piano, but they can't find the source of it.
Not long after, C is killed in a car accident outside their home. And after that, something out-of-the-ordinary occurs: C awakens & becomes a ghost, wearing a bed sheet with two holes for eyes, much like a Halloween costume.
He watches M grieve for days, weeks, months, & so on. Eventually, M moves out. C, devastated & stuck in the house, tries to find her again. And so, he embarks on a journey through time, looking through the past & future occupants of the house, all in search of finding M again.
The cast is spectacular. Affleck & Mara, who have previously worked together in 2013's Ain't Them Bodies Saints, build on that already excellent chemistry to the point where we feel like we're seeing a real couple on screen, & not actors.
Even with a ghost costume on for most of the film, you can still see the sadness in Casey Affleck in every frame after his death. His performance gives off a cold, but emotional aura, much like his performance for the ages last year in Manchester by the Sea.
Rooney Mara has steadfastly positioned herself as one of the best actresses at the moment. She exhibits grief in a way that we don't see a lot in cinema, especially in an 8 1/2-minute long scene where she consumes an entire chocolate cream pie in order to deal with her grief.
David Lowery's direction is phenomenal. Lowery has proven himself here as one of the best directors in independent cinema at the moment, & he directs the film with an aura reminiscent of the early films of Terrence Malick.
His screenplay is also excellent. The script feels so real & you can definitely understand the characters' feelings of love & loss.
And the cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo is brilliantly crafted. Shot in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio like old TV sets, the aspect ratio makes us feel claustrophobic.
This is one of the best films of the year so far. To people who don't like slow films or 8 1/2 minute-long scenes of Rooney Mara eating pie, this is not for you. But if you like realistic portrayals of love & grief, this is a film for you. It's a perfect portrayal of love & loss.
A Ghost Story was seen by me at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI on Friday, July 28, 2017. It is currently showing at 4 theaters in the Detroit area, including the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI & the AMC Livonia 20 in Livonia, MI. Its runtime is 92 minutes, & it is rated R for brief language & a disturbing image.