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A Most Unusual 'Ghost Story'

Jul. 25, 2017
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After directing a charming, special-effects driven children’s movie, Pete’s Dragon, Milwaukee-born David Lowery decided to purge his system by going bare bones. A Ghost Story stars Casey Affleck, visible in a few scenes before disappearing under a sheet. He’s dead for most of the film, yet exists as a ghost, doomed to haunt a modest ranch house as a white-sheeted specter with big holes for eyes. The mood in some scenes is strangely affecting. Trapped in the place where he last lived (and died), he stares mournfully at his wife (sad-eyed Rooney Mara) and the other tenants who come and go after she moves out. 

A Ghost Story

Casey Affleck

Rooney Mara

Directed by David Lowery

Rated R

With dialogue as sparse as its budget, A Ghost Story avoids flash. Lowery’s camera hovers and stares much like Affleck’s ghost—invisible to the living except for an occasional play of flickering light, stuck in place and unnoticed for what seems like an eternity. His only communication is with the sheeted ghost next door. Their murmurs are subtitled as if the dead possess their own tongue. 

A Ghost Story is not a horror film by any definition. Nothing horrible happens beyond Affleck’s death, seen only in retrospect. Often nothing much happens at all as Affleck passes time in limbo—in this world but no longer of it. A Ghost Story is an oddly moving meditation on time, frustration and loss.

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