What Did I Watch This Week? A Ghost Story

by Zach Smith-Michaels


David Lowery is the best director that you’ve never heard of. With films like Pete’s Dragon (2016), The Old Man & the Gun, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, I think it’s safe to say that the man has nothing, if not variety. Lowery is a great director and I think that he needs to be discovered by a larger audience. I first discovered Lowery when I rode my bike to an independent theater in Dayton, OH and beheld his masterpiece; A Ghost Story. As you can probably guess, I see a lot of movies, but ever since July 29, 2017 (when I first saw A Ghost Story) I’ve thought about this movie every day.

This movie has struck a very real and emotional chord with me. Every time I experience this film I am fully connected from beginning to end. Upon my first viewing, I sat in silence through the credits cogitating on what I had just witnessed. This movie has practically no dialogue and I would say that 98% of this movie counts on visual story telling, and the story telling really works. I can’t applaud David Lowery because this movie completely thrives on his vision. A Ghost Story is able to say a lot, and ask the audience a lot of questions without the characters saying a word. The actors in this film give incredibly subtle and nuanced performances. There’s a scene where a character sits on the floor eating pie for about nine, uninterrupted minutes, and that was one of the most emotionally resonate scenes that I have ever seen in my life!

I truly think that your reaction to this will depend on what you’re looking for. This film is thought provoking in the moment. When you finish, you’ll have a lot to think about, but every shot in this film does you something to think about. This film is filled with very long, still, and mesmerizing shots. This movie masterfully utilizes stillness, and it’s up to you to think about what each scene means. I don’t think that anyone will have the same opinion on this film. I really believe that everyone will pick up something different from this movie.

I love a good score, and Daniel Hart delivers a hauntingly beautiful one. I find myself listening to the score on Spotify a few times. The score adds such a beautiful texture to the movie

Personally, I think that this film is about how we deal with loss. How do we move on after we lose something? How do we feel about other people losing us from their lives? What kind of people do we want to be with the life that we have? You might think that this film is saying something completely different, and you know what? I think we can both be right.

I do have a very hard time recommending this film. Almost no dialogue, shots with people just sitting, no exposition, no “action”, I understand that this movie isn’t for everyone. I’m not saying that those people are wrong, I’m saying that people watch movies for different things. This one is for people who want to think very deeply about this films themes. Honestly, I would compare this movie to Spike Jonze’s Where The Wild Things Are. If you just look at the surface of this movie, it’s easy to be dismissive. People like to throw around the word “weird.” Not everyone wants to dig so emotionally deep into a film in order to get the full experience, but I certainly do. Any movie that can leave an emotional bruise on my heart means a lot to me. Films such as Where The Wild Things Are, (500) Days Of Summer, Her, Blade Runner 2049 and 2001: A Space Odyssey.  A Ghost Story just might top the list for me.