Directed by David Lowery
Starring Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
For a film that spends most of its time with a lonesome ghost who can’t leave his house, A Ghost Story is a film with quite the larger-than-life scope. Traversing through the present, the future, the past, and the present again, this is an immensely cinematic and ambitious film to say the least, feeling like an uncompromised directorial vision that moves about in some of the most audacious directions.
Although Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara’s names grace the film’s posters, they’re hardly in the film as they play a married couple who, after Affleck is killed in a car accident and becomes a ghost, spends most of his screen-time under a white sheet and remains speechless. Even Mara’s character becomes near-mute as she grieves alone in their house, with her ghost husband unable to do anything but observe her as she continues her life without him. Cruelly enough for the husband, his ghost state seems permanent as he watches his wife and the house throughout the many, many years to come by.
For a fairly short feature film, A Ghost Story has quite a lot to say about time, without actually saying much as it keeps the dialogue to a minimum. Its indie low budget doesn’t hinder any of its lofty ambitions, and it moves about its very loose narrative in a decidedly uncommercial fashion similar to the films of Terrence Malick and Carlos Reygadas, as well as emulating the ghost logic of Enter the Void.
It’s a slow film and a slow burn, with the intense emotional impact having to build up throughout its short length. At first, it feels too emotionally detached, as it eschews the usual hysterical grieving process seen in other films for something incredibly nuanced and atypical (Mara’s most emotional scene involving her grief is her eating a pie). But as the film progresses through its timelines and characters and settings, it manages to build up quite the awe-inspiring effect and achieves a profundity that only films are capable of.
A Ghost Story is a special and singular film that manages to be so emotionally powerful with just so little. It’s so sparse with its dialogue that at times it’s almost a silent movie, though it’s the incredible pairing of wonderful imagery and properly haunting music telling this existential story that will stay with an audience for quite some time.
Catch A Ghost Story as part of the Revelation Perth International Film Festival.