A Ghost Story


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in A Ghost Story - this is the story of a ghost and the house he haunts.
"Reveals just enough in the sparse dialogue and long silences to keep us intrigued." | Photo: Andrew Droz Palermo

There is a certain unsettling power that pervades David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, with the viewer never allowed to be entirely sure of the terrain that unfolds.

Taking a quote from a Virginia Woolf short story as its starting point (“Whatever hour you woke, there was a door shutting”) Lowery reunites his actors from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints - Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara - as a couple arguing over whether they should leave their rented house in rural Texas and set up anew.

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She seems to favour the idea of an abode that is less isolated whereas he as a songwriter likes the familiarity of the property - and has a special affinity to an old piano that came with it.

Things start to become sepulchral when they are awoken during the night by an inexplicable clang on the instrument. Affleck’s character, it transpires, is deceased and what we are observing his wife’s attempts to come to terms with his death - seen from the point of view of the ghost.

Affleck besides playing his alive self spends most of the film wearing a white sheet with cut-out holes for eyes. This may seem a child-like vision of the supernatural but it is surprisingly effective with the ghost keeping watch like a sentinel on those he has left behind and even communicating with other spectres flitting in and out of neighbouring houses.

Lowery who must have found this film the complete antidote to his work on his previous project Pete’s Dragon, reveals just enough in the sparse dialogue and long silences to keep us intrigued while his decision to shoot in the 4:3 aspect ratio lends the air of a home movie. Daniel Hart contributes a spare yet affecting score.

As a reflection of spiritual connections, coming to terms with loss as well as the boundaries of time and memory, A Ghost Story has a mesmerising quality that assuredly has the continuing power to haunt.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2017
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This is the story of a ghost and the house he haunts.
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Director: David Lowery

Writer: David Lowery

Starring: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Rob Zabrecky, Will Oldham, Liz Franke, Sonia Acevedo

Year: 2017

Runtime: 92 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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