I guess it’s a good thing I’d already heard about the now infamous pie-eating scene in director David Lowery’s film A Ghost Story. If you haven’t heard about it yet then allow me to indulge you. It’s a sequence running nearly ten minutes wherein a young widow played by the delicate and talented actress Rooney Mara nearly consumes a pie in its entirety on camera. I was well prepared for it and decided to take a rest room break when the moment transpired. When I returned nearly seven minutes later wouldn’t you know that Rooney was still eating that damned pie. Although I enjoy Mara’s screen presence as much as the next guy, nearly ten minutes of the actress doing nothing but consuming a pie was nearly enough to push me over the edge. And that was only twenty minutes into a ninety-minute film. I mention this not as an excuse to reveal my bathroom habits but rather to make an effort to describe the kind of experience one can expect should they venture out to see Lowery’s film. Yes, A Ghost Story, in spite of containing a few fleetingly good scenes, unfortunately collapses under the weight of its arty pretensions and the pie-eating scene is a good example of the delights-if that’s the word- the film has to offer the viewer.
The film’s story is a rather simple and straightforward one that has been served much better in multitudes of similarly plotted films over the decades. It’s essentially the oft-repeated tale of a man whose life is cut short due to a tragic accident and who returns as a ghostly form. The character’s name here is C and he’s played by recent Oscar winner Casey Affleck, whose newfound clout may have had a part in securing the film a wider release than it may have had on a different day. C is married to M (Rooney Mara) and the two have a passionate relationship that is decently depicted in the film’s early scenes. C returns as a ghost to the house the couple shared and where M now lives alone, quietly grieving her loss.
The best parts of the film are the ones depicting the comings and goings of the later occupants of the house as C continues to stalk the premises in his ghostly form after M moves on with her life. Some of the depictions of ghostly goings on are well staged and there’s an interesting speech in the film from a future occupant who gives a pretty convincing argument as to why life might have less meaning than the human species might like to believe. Unfortunately, there are too many moments when the film is so quiet and slow paced that it kills any positive attributes that Lowery may have been able to inject into the proceedings.
A Ghost Story is the kind of film that wants to desperately prove to audiences how profound it is and I suppose some segment of the movie going public might be able to get on its wavelength. Unfortunately I was not among them.
A Ghost Story is playing in Charlotte at several theatres, as of press time.
Photo: Rooney Mara in A Ghost Story
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