I hate horror movies.
I hate “art” movies.
So, what was the attraction of A Ghost Story? Possibly a free morning screening with the director in attendance? In the end, David Lowery was not able to make it to the screening and the film was left to speak for itself. [Caution: Potential Spoilers]
In the end, its silence spoke louder than words.
A Ghost Story is a study in grief, regret, spiritual longing, and the nature of time and eternity. I went in expecting Ghost or even Truly, Madly, Deeply, but found myself engaged on a much deeper level. The movie begins with a tender domestic scene; a quiet discussion between a couple. There is haunting music and a strange projection of light on the walls of the house but no real indication that the house will be a major character in the rest of the movie. The lanquid pace continues throughout the film.
Casey Affleck dies early in the movie and even this scene is presented in quietness. But here is where the ghosting begins. “C” (Affleck) has loved this house that he shared with “M” (Rooney Mara) and from his shrouded presence in the morgue, he arises to keep vigil over both his wife and his home. His haunting of his wife’s home is deliberate, but not presented as menacing or odd. We become as curious as C is in wondering what will transpire in this place that he seems rooted in. This is not, however, a movie about “connecting” the living and the dead. M does not feel his presence, or react in any way to C being near her. She grieves and then she moves on. Even when M moves out – leaving two significant items – C cannot leave. He is waiting and we are waiting too.
The house goes through a number of owners. The first is a Spanish family and M is definitely not pleased with their arrival. Here is the only Poltergeist moment in the movie and it works to relieve the growing sadness of the film. Is this what eternity brings – only a hovering between two worlds?
Next comes a gaggle of young musicians and friends. We listen as one young man pontificates about the meaning of life and eternity as C’s life and eternity are being played out before our eyes. I did not think it was possible to feel empathy for a Casper like ghost in a sheet. Casey Affleck’s emoting and the director’s skill dissuaded me.
The house begins to disintegrate, but the movie keeps us there – waiting for a particular event to occur. When it finally does happen it left me gasping. This is not a movie that I could walk out of and resume my noise filled life. I needed a few hours in silence to process the story. Writer-Director David Lowery wrote that he knew that his film would not be for everyone. “Some will think it pretentious, or shrug it off…, but some people will love it, and I’m excited for them to discover it.”
Thank you, Sir. I loved it.