WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT
Film Review by Fiore
I can’t remember the last time I was so bored watching a movie than I was at the press screening of A GHOST STORY. The movie plods along slower than the drifting of the continental plates. I surmise the Director and Screenwriter David Lowry, wanted to hold scenes, sequences and transitions for inordinate amounts of time to enable the audience to seriously contemplate the deep and hidden meaning in each shot. The technique, like the films of Terrance Mallick, fails dismally. I was gesturing wildly at the screen, urging the film to ‘get on with it’. I am personally convinced there is not enough vodka in the whole of Pittsburgh to make this film in any way entertaining.
First, let’s establish A GHOST STORY is not a horror film; it is just horribly made. There are no skin crawling, suspenseful, cat on the windowsill moments; nor are there any ghosts, ghouls, goblins or monsters deigned to provide nightmares.
Several years ago, Casey Affleck starred in MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, another incredibly boring film. A GHOST STORY makes that work look like something from Michael Bay. MANCHESTER BY THE SEA garnered accolades from folk who know nothing about film as entertainment. Many in the fabled two-lettered cities had to sing its praises, because the ‘cool’ or ‘in’ people did so; and heaven knows you can’t go against them! I’m sure that same group will find something of value in A GHOST STORY, also, because Affleck has that effect on Bohemians.
Affleck is C. He is either married to, or living in sin with M, played by Rooney Mara. Soon after we are given a glimpse into their life together, C dies in a car accident, only to return as a ghost. But this is not Patrick Swayze attempting to ditto Demi Moore. No, Affleck spends the majority of the film under the sheet used to cover his corpse in the morgue. It stars off as a bad impression of Michael Myers in the HALLOWEEN films, and then degrades further through the reels. While there are a few snippets of celluloid devoted to flashback scenes of the couple together, their relationship remains mired in bog.
As a ghost, C seems rooted to the piece of ground his home with M occupied. He travels haphazardly through the time space continuum, serving as an observer to events that transpired on that piece of land.
First, a fatherless family of Mexicans moves into the house after M leaves. C doesn’t like the Mexicans, but the reason is unexplained. It could be because they only speak Spanish, with no subtitles, and no one can tell what they are saying; or it could be because they represent a group of immigrants unwilling to assimilate into the American culture; or it could be because they are the typical welfare unit of single mothers, draining the tax dollars of others; or it could be he knows they somehow found a way past President Trump’s proposed wall and he’s pissed about it. Who knows? Who cares?
No time to worry about it, because soon we are back in pioneer days, meeting a traditional family unit with hopes and dreams of making a new life for themselves in a new land. That is, until the Indians come and slaughter all of them, including the children. The message here seems to be justification for what was done to the red-skinned savages.
Next, viewers must suffer through pontification from a delusional millennium who life has taught to be a complete nihilist. His speech is mind numbing and something only a Bernie Sanders supporter could find slightly coherent.
We shoot to the future, where the homeland is razed and a large, techno-neon business building abides. Inside the building is a fully functional, multicultural collection of folks trying to earn the big bucks. This scenario causes C to commit suicide by leaping off the building. How does a ghost commit suicide? Don’t ask; I told you the film was utter nonsense.
Finally, C ends up in the not too distant past, and is able to relieve his moments with M which, apparently weren’t as idyllic as the opening scenes suggest.
1.1 KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE SHEET GHOST FIRST APPEARS
2. THE CONVERSATION WITH THE NEIGHBOR GHOST
3. THROWING OUT THE MEXICANS
The version of A GHOST STORY screened for the press was presented in the old 4:3 ratio. I’m not sure why. It certainly did not add anything to the presentation. There is nothing here, technically worth noting, except the music. It seems to be a warped combination of Pink Floyd and Enya. Scored by Daniel Hart, it’s the only thing of value A GHOST STORY has to offer.
Let’s take a look at the report card for A GHOST STORY:
1.2 ACTING = D
1.3 CINEMATOGRAPHY = D
1.4 LIGHTING = D
1.5 SOUND MUSIC = B
1.6 EDITING = D
1.7 SCRIPT = F
1.8 SFX = D
1.9 ACTION = F
A movie needs to grab the attention of the viewer within the first ten minutes, with either an action sequence, or the introduction of an interesting character. A GHOST STORY fails that test, and then continues to sludge through celluloid esoteric gobbledygook.
I can’t think of anyone who would find value in this film, save for those attempting to be pretentious at a cocktail party. It’s not even worth watching on TV.