Director: David Lowery
Writer: David Lowery
Verdict: Fucking fantastic; a strong, strong, five stars.
I have a theory about A24, once they’d gotten over their middling indie era at the beginning with Spring Breakers and The Spectacular Now they started releasing hard hitting intelligent masterpieces like The Lobster, Green Room, and Swiss Army Man before picking up some Oscars with Room and Moonlight. Now they have a following they’re like, how far can we push this..? So now we have A Ghost Story which can only be described as 2001: A Space Odyssey for millennials.
Ok that isn’t exactly right, but the production design will press all of your hipstery millennial buttons. It plays somewhat like the last act of 2001: A Space Odyssey where Bowman watches himself grow older as a metaphor for artificial evolution in some kind of alien experiment. The difference is that this makes a lot more coherent sense, visually it is very literal unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey whilst also being incredibly expressionistic. I don’t want to give away too much of the plot because it’s so much more than you think it is, or than I thought it was going in.
The cinematography is unique. It is presented in 4:3 which is a very televisual ratio with curved edges which makes you feel like you’re watching a moving polaroid like something out of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. You are watching memories through a moving photograph. The colour work itself is also incredibly evocative of this. You are detached, you are foreign in your own world, everything feels like something you’ve voyerisitically just stumbled across and happened to observe like you are yourself the titular spectre. This can at first seem irritating but slowly begins to make sense, and that’s part of why I need to see it again I need to digest this again knowing what I know now about the film. There are times when the film will just be going along how it does and something brilliant, and virtuosic and extraordinarily watchable will come out of no where and sideswipe you and leave you frankly, breathless.
The production design is incredible, it makes awfully mundane things seem awfully important and emotional. The score is exquisite and I’m getting it on vinyl. The sound design evokes works like that of Lynch, (Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Eraserhead), and Kubrick, (2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange ) and Mallick, (Badlands, The Tree of Life), and it looks and visually references all of these films makers as well in a way that I really didn’t expect from the maker of Pete’s Dragon.
The film will divide audiences, but I thought it was just beautiful. It has something interesting and relevant and often profound to say about art and legacy and death and the afterlife and it has something to say about how our personal ghosts are just the memories that we attach to places and it inspires us to move on and it’s almost like the film is from the perspective of one of those memories. The nature of that life is what inspires us to leave it behind in a way few films achieve. I thought it was transcendent. I loved it, when it comes out in two months I’m going to do whatever I can to see it again. It might end up being one of my favourite films ever if it works out on rewatches. I need, I need to see it again right fucking now!