Normally if you told me there was a five plus minute static shot of a woman eating pie I’d tell you to fuck off, not my kind of movie. But goddamnit I loved A GHOST STORY.
The slow, roaming, long (long!) shots that open the first half of the film lull you into a sense of dreaminess that make the cuts and bursts of dialogue that come later feel like an exciting, meaningful, and gripping splash of cold water to your mug.
It’s a haunting, perfectly (slow!) paced tragic love story that makes you feel angst the same way Radiohead does - it stirs something in your gut that’s like making your insides turn into a teenage meringue of bitterness that you can’t help but continue to eat. Mixed metaphor that makes no sense? I don’t care. Neither does A GHOST STORY or Radiohead’s guttural effectiveness, but they work and they make you feel angst.
My friend Ben described the movie as a indie ghost story Tree of Life, which felt pretty spot on - without the cutaways to universe expansion or domestic abuse. It has the same emotional, hanging, long beautiful frames that make you less concerned about the plot than the experiential nature of the movie. It’s about how we experience love an time and what’s meaningful. It’s good in an abstract emotional way.
The use of cutting and time is really what this movie is about, both thematically and in execution. We go forward and first, then backwards, then start over again. It’s cyclical and linear and feels effortless and never feels boring though you’re aware of the slowness. It’s slow then it’s, well, it’s never fast but it feels fast. It’s liquid and smooth and slips forward through centuries and decades and moments.
I wonder if Casey Affleck was under that bed sheet the whole time? I feel like he was. I BELIEVE HE WAS.
Watch the movie in the dark. Give yourself over to it, and be patient. It’s the type of movie that’s really hard to get people to watch and sit through, but if you do you’ll love it and get to be all cinephile and pretentious about it. But not just because, because it’s a refreshing take on story telling and shows a restrained, confident, mastery of the form.
Also you get to see Rooney Mara eat a pie for a long time. And somehow it works. It’s beautiful, it’s tragic, it’s lovely, it’s funny, it’s trance inducing. Loved it.
There’s also a kick ass song in it that’s part of the story - it’s called ‘I Get Overwhelmed’ by Dark Rooms. It’s my favorite kind of moody.
Star powered actors aside, supposedly this movie was made for $100k or so. Which in it’s own right it impressive. It’s like the quiet kid in the cafeteria showing up to baseball tryouts and has a mean curveball. Against the odds, unexpected, and that much more fun when it’s successful.
One of those inspiring-if-you’re-trying-to-make-movies movies.