Riding the wave of your Halloween high jinx? Well, this is not the movie for you. A Ghost Story is not a scary movie and it was only by coincidence that I watched it over the Halloween weekend. It is enthralling though.
Written and directed by David Lowery for about the cost of 200 tins of high-quality caviar, A Ghost Story first and foremost is a story about love and loss. The lead characters played by Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara are a couple in love, but things are suddenly turned on their head when Casey Affleck dies in a car accident.
This is where the genius begins, prior to this point you have had the barebones of dialogue, along with beautiful shots of love and life that linger long enough to keep you thinking. After the accident, the same shots remain but this time Casey Affleck is represented (rather comically) as a man in a bed sheet with two eyes cut out. He stands in each shot like a big lump of physical grief. This voyeuristic ‘ghost’ appears unable to contact or connect with his grief-stricken love and as she leaves, the onus of the story shifts to (his) life after death.
Despite zero dialogue, facial expressions or other social cues, you are never in doubt as to what the ‘ghost’ is thinking. You will follow him from family to family, beyond and before. There are shades of Groundhog Day in here, although in absence of laughs you will find pity and empathy. You will want the ghost to find his freedom; freedom which seems much easier for the living.
Make no mistake though this film is about a young couple in love as much as it is about religion, capitalism, the environment, history and the deep-seated voyeurism seen in modern society. It is multi-layered and it demands applied meaning. It will never smack you in the face and tell you to save the planet now or to think about capitalism here and religion there. You will have to find the cues yourself and I must say I personally enjoyed the ‘journey’, without sounding too
much like a dickhead quaint.
There will be a large minority of people who will strongly dislike this film for almost all the same reasons I loved it. Where I see time to think, people will see a slow pace and no dialogue, and where I see deep meaning and intrigue, people will see Casey Affleck with a bedsheet on his head not doing anything. I can’t promise that you will love it as much as I did, but it would be a crime not to at least experience it. I give it a solid 74 out of 9EQ.
“The last time we saw this much emotion from under a bed sheet Bill Clinton was in office!” (Badum-Tish)