A GHOST STORY (2017) REVIEW: For a story about ghosts, film has never felt so real


Written by James Reilly – Student Pages Entertainment Journalist/Film Critic

Film Rating: 


This is a very difficult film to review, because this film by its very nature defies all film conventions. There is hardly any dialogue, movement of the camera and the main protagonist has his body covered head-to-toe for the majority of the movie. Also there is a 9-minute single take scene of Rooney Mara eating a pie. How can I review this?

People will hate this movie, people will love this movie and I fall into the category of love. This is my first David Lowery movie, and by all accounts this film does not fit the mould. This is a far cry from his previous effort, Disney’s Pete Dragon. The film stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, and takes place after Casey Affleck is tragically killed in a car crash. Rooney Mara than has to cope with the grief of losing her partner all the while Affleck returns as a ghost covered by a bed-sheet. From there we deal with time, space and death in one of the most challenging, beautiful and strange films I’ve ever seen.

To dissect this film is to dissect film as a medium itself. Like I said it defies all film conventions and is in itself a piece of art. No two people will view this film as one another sees it. It’s a film for your eyes, ears, brain and soul. Not only is it the most beautifully shot film of the year, its got the best sound editing and score as well, as well as the best song with “I get overwhelmed”. On a technical level this film is incredible. So on a skin deep level this film excels to extraordinary levels, but below that? Is it just beautiful images? No, for me at least. Some may say its artistic and soulless for the sake of being artistic and soulless, I respectfully disagree. There are some slow, very slow, moments here (the 9 minute pie scene for example), but its so surreal in just how real it is. For a film called “A Ghost Story”, film has never felt so real. It captures the human spirit more so than any other film I’ve seen this year. Not only the human spirit, but the essence of time. Time is a strong running theme here, and creates so many questions I don’t want to address here due to spoilers. The devil really is in the detail here, the more you look the more you find.

This film is strange, surreal and brutally honest to the point where you might wish it would be more conventional. But this film excels in showing the mundane, slow moments of everyday life – especially in the grieving process. If you were watching at home you might feel compelled to pick up your phone in one or two scenes (*cough* pie scene *cough*) so I urge you if you can to see this film on the big screen. Its sound, visuals and lasting impact will definitely be greater.

This film might easily be one of the best of the year. Time will tell. Time always tells.

Follow James at @JamesisGinger