Like a shark, a good ghost story requires constant movement in order to survive. Without dramatic incident providing a propulsive, life-giving force, what you get on your hands is a dead shark of a story.
With his latest film (conveniently titled A Ghost Story), director David Lowery has come up with a dead shark.
Seemingly uninterested in the basic mechanics of storytelling, Lowery, instead, appears to be in love with his own perfectly composed images.
With an eye for detail rather than drama, scenes play out more like a series of still-life photographs. Such meticulous care has been taken in framing every shot that you suspect Lowery’s true calling is interior design.
This might make for pretty pictures, but the beating human heart desires more. And it is this inability to reach out to the audience, heart-to-heart, that is the film’s biggest problem. Not even the Oscar-winning talent of Casey Affleck can escape Lowery’s icy directorial gaze, with its uncanny ability to drive out even the faintest trace of human warmth. It is entirely fitting that Affleck’s naturally expressive face is (quite literally) whitewashed from most of the film via a rudimentary ghost costume.
Deprived even of names, Lowery’s married couple, played by Affleck and Rooney Mara, essentially ghost their way through the entire film. In the case of Mara, eating a pie is about as real as it gets (though having to sit through her gulping down each… and… every… slow bite is another story). Following a tragic accident, Affleck, the ghost of the film, doesn’t so much wander around the old marital home as become part of the furniture. As such, there is an aimlessness to the proceedings, which sees the characters, ghost or not, float around without much consequence or momentum.
Ultimately, what you are left with is a film whose aesthetic charm masks a rather meagre soul. Chris Prindiville
‘Ghost Story’ opens across Australia on July 27.
Check out the trailer above.