In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife.
‘A Ghost Story’ is a haunting supernatural drama about the grieving process and the nature of loss, told in an ambitious and deeply affecting manner. It stars Rooney Mara (known only as M) and Casey Affleck (known only as C) as a young couple living in a small suburban house, who find their lives irrevocably changed when C dies in a car accident. Shortly after this, C returns to the house as a ghost (portrayed merely with a white sheet and piercing holes for eyes), where he watches over M as she initially grieves for her loss and then over time, starts to move on. The image of a ghost appearing under a sheet could appear silly or cheesy if the right tone wasn’t established, but David Lowery (and Casey Affleck) manage to make this childlike view strike a chord, and it lends itself perfectly to a movie that is incredibly poignant and moving.
The film has a striking visual style, mainly attributed to the decision to shoot in an aspect ratio of 1:33:1, with this resolution creating a boxed in feeling that enhances the claustrophobic nature of the storytelling on display. The beautiful use of music helps to establish this mood and Lowery draws brilliant performances from a phenomenal Rooney Mara, and from Casey Affleck, who appears under a sheet for most of the running time. The film is initially hard to get into, with the long takes and minimal dialogue difficult to penetrate, but over time its poetic nature came through and the really strong moments are worth waiting for. I felt that ‘A Ghost Story‘ really got to the heart of the feeling of loss and the difficulties people have in moving on, and I can imagine this film will be an incredibly difficult watch for anyone who has suffered a bereavement recently, but it does explores these topics with thoughtfulness and care and I felt it dug into some really interesting ideas. It’s particularly strong when it starts to depict the passage of time and by the time it asked for the audience to take a leap of faith, I was invested and willing to go with it, and I was very satisfied with how it ties its themes together in an emotionally resonant and poignant manner. Some of the moments designed to elaborate on the film’s themes are a little too on the nose (the section with Will Oldham mainly), but for the most part Lowery outlines what he wants to say with nuance and it’s a film I’ve been thinking about long after leaving the cinema.
‘A Ghost Story’ is one of the saddest films I’ve ever seen, a moving meditation on love, loss and the grieving process, with strong themes that are explored well. David Lowery can be a captivating filmmaker and this is an inventive, bold, often brilliant piece of work that I hope people will make time for.
Directed By: David Lowery
Starring: Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck