A Ghost Story ★½

This is a sixty-minute story at best, stretched to ninety minutes. It can do this because it wants to pretend at profundity, which is why it has so many long takes: if you get bored during a long take, that's YOUR fault, you're not appreciating the Grand Portrait That Is Being Painted For You.

A lot of critics refer to the Rooney Mara eating pie scene as brilliant in their reviews of this movie, and they're right. It's a great scene. But it's a great scene because stuff happens in it: Rooney Mara eats an entire pie, and she does so because she's in mourning and she misses her partner and she hates herself for surviving and she hates him for leaving and she's sad and she's trying to barrel through all of it by eating the entire pie. It's a great scene with great acting that communicates information to the audience in ways both obvious and subtle, and it's not just a long take sitting there daring you to say "this is crap art."

So much of the rest of this film is crap art. Long takes for the sake of being long aren't anything special. They're just long. A long, slow zoom on a dead body which screams LOOK AT THIS DEAD BODY LOOK AT IT BECAUSE THIS IS ART is pretense, not filmmaking. Given that the ghost is purposely as anti-physical and anti-emotion in its movements as possible (and I don't believe for one second it's actually Casey Affleck at any point under that sheet because why would you pay him to do effectively nothing for 95% of a film shoot? That dude worked two days for his actual scenes and then accepted credit for some PA standing up under the sheet), it's like somebody tried to make a movie out of the Kuleshov effect. "Oh, the ghost is sad! No, he's upset! He's curious! He's apologetic!"

There's some lovely bits here and there, not just the pie scene but others, glimmers of what a good movie this could have been if they had bothered to either cut it down to what it needed to be or found more of a story to tell. But as it stands, no. This isn't good, and it's not anti-intellectual to say so.