It has been awhile since we’ve done a Weekend Review of an older film, but here’s one we missed in 2017. A Ghost Story turns its familiar premise into something we’ve never quite seen before. It earned itself numerous awards— but less time in the theatres than the filmmakers might have liked.

Title: A Ghost Story

Cast and Crew

Written and directed by David Lowery

Casey Affleck as C
Rooney Mara as M
McColm Cephas Jr. as Little Boy
Kenneisha Thompson as Doctor
Grover Coulson as Man in Wheelchair
Liz Cardenas Franke as Linda
Barlow Jacobs as Gentleman Caller
Sonia Acevedo as Maria
Carlos Bermudez as Carlos
Yasmina Gutierrez as Yasmina
Kesha as Spirit Girl

Premise:

A dead man refuses to leave his old life, and witnesses the future history of the place he inhabited.

High Points:

The film features stunning visuals, and a story that builds to a powerful conclusion.

Low Points:

The film has a very slow start. These actors and this director could have made this story work in an hour, with perhaps even greater impact.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6 We’ve seen something like this story before, but it has never played quite as it does here. A Ghost Story gets credit for taking the cliché image of the sheet-ghost and making it something affecting.

Effects: 5/6 The effects are fewer than viewers would expect, but they’re perfectly integrated.

Acting: 6/6 The film features excellent acting, blunted a bit by being a little too real-world and mumbly. I would have taken a point away for that, but Casey Affleck earns it back for conveying emotion with a sheet over his head.

Production: 6/6

Story: 4/6 Lowery has crafted a strong story, but it could have been told in one hour without losing impact.

Emotional Response: 5/6 You may find yourself frustrated by the slow-burn introduction. Rooney Mara has a scene illustrating her character’s grief and, while I understand why the camera lingers, it still feels art-house excessive. Never mind. Stay the course. This film provides a powerful payoff.

Overall: 5/6 Missed opportunity: Given the twist, the second ghost could easily have been C as well. I don’t know if that would have improved the story, but it’s an interesting discussion point.

In total, A Ghost Story receives 35/42