I’m waiting for someone.
I don’t remember.
Lowery writes and directs in this film, which reteams him with his lead actors from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Casey Affleck & Rooney Mara. This movie is, I think, basically indescribable. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints utilized a very traditional story, but elevated it by virtue of sensitive writing and amazing performances; this movie has nothing even approaching a traditional story. I’m going to tell you nothing about this movie and I highly recommend avoiding the trailer before seeing this film; that’s what I did and after watching it, I went back and looked at the trailer and found that it spoiled a lot of details. Lowery’s direction is at the level of genius; there’s a cosmic, mystical feeling to this movie that he nails with his floating, beautiful camerawork. This movie is incredibly slow, but it pays off as it progresses. It is, in many ways, a movie about grief, but perhaps in even more ways a movie about time and the way we move through it. It’s exploring, in an entirely different way, the same subject Arrival tackled; like that movie, this movie is about those mysterious feelings we get that we don’t quite understand, whether it’s the feeling of a lost loved one being near us or of entering an entirely new space and feeling instantly at home. Mara’s performance is wonderful; there’s an amazing single take of her, lost in absolute desolation, eating basically an entire pie and everything from her facial expressions and her body language speak perfectly of devastation. This is a film where a lot depends on body language; there’s scarcely any dialogue in it. Mara is great at it and I’ve always said that Casey Affleck has an incredible ability to produce emotion with very minimal acting. Special mention goes, no spoilers, to the figure under that ghostly sheet, forced to sell an incredible range of emotion purely through stillness and movement and positioning. It’s a tour de force, frankly, one that, being “hidden” under the sheet, will be unrecognized for its brilliance by all the awards shows, but it is astonishing work. Lowery’s eye is just unparalleled here; putting the ghost under a sheet leads to some incredibly compelling visuals and the world Lowery has crafted here is imaginative and strange. A great musical soundtrack helps immeasurably; any movie this quiet benefits from a perfectly pitched score and this one, by a composer named Daniel Hart, is deeply evocative. It’s a strange, compelling masterpiece, like no other movie you’ll see this year. 4 stars.
tl;dr – evocative, powerful, mystical movie is brilliantly performed and writer-director Lowery establishes himself as a true master of cinema; unforgettable, devastating, utterly unique. 4 stars.