To call this movie “minimalist” is to almost give it more
credit than it's due. It feels
amateurish in its long, silent, still shots, as if we, the viewers, are
supposed to sit there thinking profound thoughts, while there's little or
nothing happening on the screen.
And yet there's an absurdist element here, as well, as Writer and
Director David Lowery throws a bedsheet over his main character, Casey
Affleck, and cuts out two eye holes, and that's his costume after he dies.
That's not a great reveal, since the promos already tell us that
this movie is about what happens after he dies.
But that's the thing. What
happens is a big nothing. At
least for our ghost-in-a-morgue bedsheet.
He observes his grieving widow (Rooney Mara), but can't console
her. (And she's obviously not
even sensing his presence.) Then he watches her move out, and soon another
family moves in (whose Spanish conversation is untranslated), which
somehow upsets him so much he manages to intersect the living realm long
enough to slam a few doors and throw a few dishes.
Then they're gone; undoubtedly
considering the place haunted. Which
it is. By the specter of our
sad-sack not-Holy Ghost.
There's just a tease of communication, by subtitles, with a
neighbor ghost, who can't seem to remember whom he's waiting for.
Meanwhile, after a brief run as a party house, the property gets
torn down and becomes a high rise, which would make our anti-hero
suicidal, except, wait, he's already dead.
Then we have a time-warp sequence where we watch a frontier family,
presumably on the same piece of property, look forward to settling there
peacefully, but next thing we know, they're all dead from an Indian attack
(excuse me, Native American). All
this is viewed dispasionately by our former-leading-man-stuck-in-a-bedsheet.
Until finally he meets himself coming and going?
If this is supposed to be profound, it's about as pedantic as the
party guest who bores everyone within earshot, including us, about how
fleeting life is in the face of the march of the eons.
Duh. Personally, I'd
rather watch Rooney Mara sit silently and eat a whole pie.
Which she does, out of misguided grief, and of course makes herself
Now we're all a little nauseated about the campy self-importance
attached to this slow-moving depiction of spiritual Purgatory as an
enigmatic afterlife. Not even
the most adventurous moviegoer will find this fascinating.
Though some may attempt to attach great metaphoric meaning, most
folks will just let this one give up the ghost.