Somewhere between Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Hans Christian Andersen, in David Lowery's A Ghost Story, the attitudes linger until spirits in them come to life.
A white ghost with two eye holes is the most familiar as well as a childish idea we have of a mind. And also his most catchy form, a projection surface for our projection of a soul. The young man played by Casey Affleck and simply called C in the film is awakened just a few moments after his girlfriend Rooney Mara as M gently pulls the corpse over his face and leaves the premises without moving. C will follow her into the common house, observe her, lose her, and in a distant time find her again.
Traces of existence in time
David Lowery is not about death or life after that. He does not show how C dies, gives neither death nor afterlife a dramatic space. Life beyond is never raised to different levels. A Ghost Story tells of the traces that exist in time. It is about the living and the dead, which connects the film in their grief. The mind returns to the house, observing how M overcomes the loss. He tries to touch her, tries to squeeze the pain out of her memory until time passes the earthly grief slowly and only the spirit remains behind.
Perhaps A Ghost Story is best described as a fairy tale, somewhere between Weerasethakul and Andersen. A film that lingers in the almost square 16mm images of Andrew Droz Palermo until spirits awaken in them. In the most beautiful moment of the melancholic ghost hour, two spirits look at each other from the windows of the houses to which they are bound.
They stand silently, the subtitles tell them about the time of waiting. Time, which destroys even the memory of the old life, lets one of the spirits forget, on whom he still waits, which still binds him to his house, from which the camera now slowly removes itself. A reflection on the disc obscures the appearance of the mind. He threatens to disappear as time passes by him.
More than just a ghost
A Ghost Story captures the time like a memory, stretches small moments, and holds in them what the mind clings to before the time also persists. You can compare it to the moments of a relationship that Terrence Malick's films go into, just to be hovered on. One can subordinate Lowery. It is pretentious and cheesy if he shows for a minute a loving couple, how they sleep in each other, knows about a self-written song in a completely new way.
One can also laugh at the fact that a ghost looks at Rooney Mara while mourning. But whoever sees only the ghost in the room forgets how stupid despair is, how vulnerable love is, and how painfully the attempt to hold on to life that slips through your fingers like sand.
Lowery tells of this existence, of love and pain, not by following these things or tugging them into the visible. He does not shape up the high points of a life, he shapes time itself. In individual attitudes pass days, even weeks, with a cut year and centuries. There, the mind becomes the ghost, a lost being that changes through the decades and transcends what transcends time, which brings together the world and the beyond, which will endure when there is no physical connection.
In Errol Morris's Gates of Heaven, it says There's your dog; Your dog's dead. But where is it? Lowery brings this something to life and shows that it does not need more than a white ghost in the cinema.