Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

07 January 2018

One of My Favorite Films of 2017

A Ghost Story is one of my favorite movies of the year. Right now I have it at #2. It's a beautiful film.

A Ghost Story is a haunting, mysterious fable about longevity, about what lives on after us, about letting go. It also manages to be whimsical in lots of ways, and to rethink what we even mean by a ghost. The image of the ghost with the sheet over its head and holes for eyes is a very old one – a child's image of a ghost, or perhaps a Hayao Miyazaki image of a ghost. This is childish or whimsical; it's even sort of silly. But it turns serious quite quickly, even haunting, and there is an extraordinary payoff to its sheet-over-the-head aesthetic.

David Lowery's film is a kind of fusion of Kelly Reichardt, Tsai Ming-Liang, Terrence Malick, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and it was just my cup of tea. The thing is, it doesn't feel derivative. It feels totally original and fascinating, and once you think you've figured it out, it goes further, into uncharted, strange territory.

(One warning. This is not a long movie at all, but it is a slow, contemplative film. If you don't like Reichardt, or Tsai or Weerasethakul, you will be annoyed by this movie's pace.)

The film's third act is my favorite section of the film. These parts of the film are about time and waiting and being. At one point we seem to project thousands of years into the future and then jump back another thousand and start again. A Ghost Story wonders what it means to live on, to live with, what it means to be in the first place. This meditation is about how people (or things?) haunt us – it is a ghost story, after all – but it is itself haunting, as we might think about how we are going to live on or what came before us or, indeed, what we are in the first place.

I loved this movie.