It’s hard to go wrong when a movie’s brimming with the talents of Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck, so it’s no wonder that David Lowery’s third feature, A Ghost Story, is getting a lot of buzz after festivals like Sundance and Fantasia. But A Ghost Story also benefits from a great premise – where do we go after we lose someone? Is that person really lost to us or is there something in just letting go? Even in the midst of general moodiness, stillness and quiet upheaval, the chemistry between Mara and Affleck is bang on and there’s such an ease when they’re together onscreen that you get the sense of a long-term relationship beyond words. Understated, right down to their names, C (Affleck) and M (Mara) are a couple living the simple life on a Texas ranch that looks inviting and creepy at the same time. They clearly only have each other and it’s romantic until…
The supporting cast around Mara and Affleck is hauntingly sparse, glimpsed once or twice in abrupt flashbacks and flash-forwards, haphazard, random, but not without meaning. Grief is always a weighty subject to explore with any depth in a movie, but A Ghost Story takes a determined crack at it. Washed-out cinematography and off-kilter camera angles suggest the dead that walk among us, and Lowery takes his time artfully setting up the destruction in their wake. It’s compelling how M has to pick up the pieces but without a sense that she’ll ever be the same. The shock and hopelessness come swiftly but coldly, like it’s only part of the universe’s grand design. A diatribe from a drunk hipster (Will Oldham cameo) is actually the warmest part of the movie, has the longest dialogue, and is curiously about humanity vs. science in a way that delivers endless interpretations.
There’s no answers as to why things happen in A Ghost Story; possibilities abound with as many souls onscreen trapped in white sheets. Definitely more than horror or drama, A Ghost Story defies being stuck in any genre because it comes from indie filmmaking born out of doing whatever you want. No matter where you go or what you do, you can’t escape – it doesn’t have to be supernatural, mostly in a movie that bridges the unknown and makes you afraid for it.
A Ghost Story is in theatres now.