I didn’t think “A Ghost Story” was all that special, but there are a few elements that makes the movie great looking. More than anything else in the movie, I admired the art direction, scenery, scope, score, and costume design. The rest just drifts away.
The movie reunites the “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” collaborators: writer/director David Lowery and stars Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. They play a loving couple living in an old house, whose world comes crashing down on them when Affleck dies in a car accident, and ends up walking in the house as a ghost.
You see him in a big white cloth with two eyes cut out. He watches his wife struggle to cope with her loss, and she moves out. He also watches more people move in, and eventually the house is demolished, turning it into a big building. And the only person he can communicate with his another ghost next door, and they talk through subtitles.
I loved watching Affleck walk around in the ghost outfit, and the images he is placed in are breathtaking. The scene when he looks at the colorful city on the top building really clinches it. The movie is also filmed in an aspect ratio of 1:31:1 (like a square image), because Lowery said: “It’s about someone basically trapped in a box for eternity, and I felt the claustrophobia of that situation could be amplified by the boxiness of the aspect ratio.” He makes a great point here.
But the problem with “A Ghost Story” is how these images and aspect ratios upstage the characters. They don’t really have a story to tell. “Manchester by the Sea” is arguably the best Casey Affleck movie of the decade, but the movie isn’t as gripping and emotionally challenged as that film. You can only look at it, and it looks great.