pureaubaby’s review published on Letterboxd:
i figured i would like this movie & my review would be something glib like, my ideal movie staring casey affleck is him covered in a sheet, barely talking. i wasn't expecting to think this was one of the top movies i've ever seen.
i loved this movie, its sparcity & its vastness. the polarized reviews don't surprise me because i think every viewing of this movie will be an extremely personal experience. it's bare, a depressing canvas. as someone who's deeply sensitive & serially projecting onto every situation, this was the perfect guide for a tumultuous onslaught of unbearable thoughts. i felt like the two halves of my chest cavity were turning into themselves the entire runtime. i had tears running down my face for at least half, for reasons i'm still not completely sure of. it feels inappropriately dramatic to say (now, outside the confines of the film), but i felt like screaming which made the quiet presence of the movie even more punishing.
i don't want to diminish david lowery's work by likening this movie to canvas. i think he had everything i was thinking in mind when he made the film, he just had no interest in creating a rigid, emotional path for the audience. in order for the film to have the effect it can have, it has to feel personal & it has to leave room for you live in the house just as the ghost is. but then to contrast this thought, i also felt like i was eating out of the palm of his hand. like he could tell when i was drowning so he'd add a sudden disruptive, sobering scene. at this point i'm honestly a pundit, i could build a shrine to this movie.
thematically this film is overwhelmingly thorough. it's so much grander than i was expecting. Tree of Life grand. early in the film, when the ghost is in the house with rooney, i remember thinking about how the music cues were more congruent w/ the ghost's experience. which was a shift because i was not expecting the movie to be from the ghost's point of view. it then made so much sense later in the film when rooney moves but we stay with casey, confined to the walls of the house. but it seems like such a surprising progression! the effects of death from the dead! a ghost's story. absolutely, i love crying. one aspect that floored me was the ghost's preoccupation w/ this note stuck in the house. rooney's character, as she was readying the house for her move, slipped a note into a split in a doorway's molding before she painted over it. as time goes on we see the ghost chronically obsessed with this note, scratching at the paint. i could bawl. an established Human experience is a fixation on the dead & last words. a person's final words before dying, the last words you said to someone before they died, their final words to you. and here we have the reversal of that. a ghost, unable to rest because he needs to know the contents of rooney's note, which may or may not be explicitly for him.
there's so much to say but me explaining My experience w/ the movie deafens its effect, i think. the only issue i had was w/ a tie-in to the house the happens at the end which i don't want to spoil for anyone who hasn't seen this but was definitely emotionally unnecessary, for me. i think if people aren't on board w/ the story by that point it's not going to help them. but i uh love it & want to own a house.