A Ghost Story ★★★½

They're just things I wanted to remember so that if I ever wanted to go back, there'd be a piece of me there waiting.

The first thing I did after returning from the vet was to float from place to place around my house. Wherever Lucky used to lie, I would linger. I don't believe in spirits, but there's some intangible feeling that remains like a residue where memories were formed. It may not be a fully formed thought, it may just be a flash of melancholy or a hint of a smile, but it's a lingering feeling of presence.

A Ghost Story is, much like one of my other favorites this year: Personal Shopper, about a feeling. And, like that film, A Ghost Story uses its theme, this time: time rather than the porous boundary between existence and non-existence, as an anchor for everything it does. Almost every cut, every shot, every frame feels as though it has been crafted to communicate that central theme as clearly as it possibly can. Bar a jarring insert here or there (and there's on particularly egregious example early on in the film), A Ghost Story is remarkably coherent for a film with such lofty ambitions.

By this point the nearly five minute pie-eating scene has become essentially a selling point for the film (because, honestly who won't watch Rooney Mara sit and do banal things in front of a camera?). But, it connects to the broader theme of time and the vastness of existence. This is a film that pushes us to understand tragedy through the lens of the vastness of time. What may seem infinitely painful in the moment won't necessarily last forever. We move on and make do. There's a particularly hackneyed reminder of this fact roughly halfway through the film, but Lowery - for the most part - does an excellent job of communicating it visually.

Lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, A Ghost Story is shot entirely in 1.33:1. It creates for an intimate frame; a border that seems to reach out and hug M even when C can't. I'm not entirely sure why the ratio doesn't dilate as the film does, but I suppose the message of intimacy and love through space and time keeps the ratio tight.

It may not be as thematically consistent nor coherent as Personal Shopper earlier this year. But, A Ghost Story is a stellar exploration of loss and time that relies on its visual stylings and remarkably physical performances to tell its story, as any good film should. I give A Ghost Story a 3.5/5.

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