Even from the “aspect ratio” which David Lowery chose, you can realize that A ghost story is an independent film, destined to re-draw a certain imaginaerum. 1:33:1 (almost a square) – which is the reducted perception that Casey Affleck, the ghost under the sheets, has of the world, by watching through two black holes.
That is useful to understand how every detail has been well taken care of. A ghost story tells the story of humanity through a very intimate tale: a love story is interrupted by C’s death, and as he becomes a phantom he will be forever stuck in a single place, being it the house he used to share with M. In that place time will run fast till the edge of the world, rolling back and forth from a future made of light and neon to past and then present day, till the first sequence of the film.
Here, Lowery is similar to Malick, only with none of the open spaces to linger on. The static levels, the temporal expansion of moments which blend with the passing time of the “living”, all of it fills our hearts with a deep sense of emptiness.
Shot in digital but through Super16 lenses, it almost looks vintage like an old family picture, even if Andrew Droz Palermo’s photography is all but nostalgic. Besides, the direction seems like owing something to the best asiatic cinema: you would think of Kim Ki-duk’s 3-Iron. Everything is calibrated, all gestures and moves are meaningful.
A remarkable sequence opens as C sees another ghost for the first time, stuck in his own place as well as the protagonist. The short dialogue between the two ghosts through their windows, is rendered through the use of subtitles and the strong sense of isolation given by the final sentence is underlined by a slow backward dolly moving from the main character: a phantom vanishing in the glass’ reflection.
A ghost story is a cosmic, nebulous and brilliant film, a 100,000$-budget pearl selected at the Sundance Film Festival and the winner of the Critics Award and the Jury Prize at Deauville Film Festival.