A Ghost Story that will never die
There isn’t anything quite like this beautifully crafted ode to life, love and legacy. It’s one of the strangest but most affecting things i’ve seen in a long time. David Lowery has crafted a dreamy vision that shows rather than tells, stares rather than glimpses. Gazing on grief from a different perspective is empty and sombre. We are the ones thrust into a voyeuristic act of lingering behind. Enduring while others move on. Lowery’s able to convey the weight of history and transient nature of our life on earth. A cloaked apparition is standing in the corner of the room. Observing. Analysing. Being. It’s a presence that it’s indescribably poignant and one that is hauntingly unshakeable.
A happy couple living in suburbia have their lives abruptly altered when a car crash kills husband (Casey Affleck) leaving behind wife (Rooney Mara) in their empty house. It’s the singular focus on the aftermath of this event that makes this exploration of time and loss so vital and compelling. The returning spectre returns to haunt his former wife cloaked in the hospital’s white sheet. It’s a bizarre Scooby-doo like image that is somehow able to appear mysterious and creepy the longer its stared at. Inspiration is clearly taken from the phantom in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001) and the likes of Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives (2010).The image pierces the mind and together with the long drawn out shots and square aspect ratio, A ghost story is undoubtedly a beautiful thing to look at. The experience will depend on how open you are to its arthouse sentiment and existential vibes. While some may balk at the ridiculousness of the set-up and lack of dialogue, others will delve into this world of meaning as I certainly did.
As life grinds on, his wife attempts to occupy herself and fill the void. Time passes, his wife moves on and many others move in. He remains stuck, bound to the place and time where he once existed. There is a strong existential feel as generations appear to pass. You can feel the weight of time and our place in its cosmic web. Lowery is wrestling with huge themes here, what do we leave behind after we pass? The most thunderous moment in the film comes when a guest at a house party begins attempting to convey Lowery’s crisis ‘’We build our legacy piece by piece and maybe the whole world will remember you or maybe just a couple of people, but you do what you can to make sure you’re still around after you’re gone.”
It’s this thought which has been playing on my mind ever since. Daniel Hart’s mesmerising soundtrack is another high point in this experimental vision that will stand the test of time.