After a summer of mega budget CGI effects packed movies it’s a bit of a jolt to watch a film where the sole special effect is a ghost portrayed by a man with a sheet draped over his head and A Ghost Story does just that. Under that sheet is the Oscar winning actor Casey Affleck but there are several scenes before he demonstrates his sheet wearing skills.
Playing a husband to Rooney Mara the pair are an unexceptional but loved up married couple in a small house and writer-director David Lowery wears his art house credentials on his sleeve here with long lingering shots of the couple especially a close up that dwells on the pair kissing for so long that it becomes uncomfortably voyeuristic.
But this is the often film story of a couple separated by death which in this instance is his in a car crash which we only see the aftermath. From hereonin Affleck is the man under the sheet and initially it is amusing, perhaps intentionally so, but his almost mournful presence as he stands in the house unable to leave his life as he watches his widow attempt to come to terms with his death grows ever more poignant. Affleck’s ghost is trapped in the house reinforced by the whole film being shot in a boxy 1:33 ratio rather than the cinematic wide screen audiences expect. IMAX this is not and Lowery increasingly emphasises the ghost’s restriction by using shots framed within door frames. Affleck’s ghostly presence becomes increasingly melancholy unable to interact with his mourning widowed wife.
It’s a largely wordless film and Mara has her moments too none more so than in a single long take where having suppressed her grieving for so long it threatens to consume her and it all comes to a head where her distress compels her to find comfort in food and she wolfs down an entire pie in one long real time take.
This is very much what might be best called a marmite movie because some will love it and others will find this hard to take to because as the film progresses and flits backwards and forwards in time there is that nagging question about mortality and what your legacy, if any, will be. Subtly it gets an audience to take stock of their own lives and the films image of the lone melancholy ghost lingers long in the memory after the credits have passed.
Here’s the trailer……