Scene & Heard: ‘A Ghost Story’ is that one you just can’t forget

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C (Casey Affleck) is a newly-deceased ghost who returns to his former home and wife, M (Rooney Mara), in “A Ghost Story.” (Photo by Bret Curry, courtesy of A24)

 

By Jared Huizenga – Contributing Writer

 

Generally speaking the cinema world has two types of ghosts – there’s the comedic ones (think Slimer, Casper, etc.) and the scary ones (i.e. “Poltergeist” and “The Conjuring”).

 

But what if the ghosts just sorta show up, hang out for a while and absorb everything that’s going on around them? Doesn’t sound too interesting, you say? You’re certainly entitled to that opinion, which is one I would have share with you if it weren’t for “A Ghost Story.”

 

C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara) are a seemingly happy couple renting their – or at least his – dream house in the suburbs. Soon, however, that happiness is ripped away when C is killed in an accident.

 

Awaking in the city morgue and now covered from head to toe in a plain white bedsheet, C returns to the home to console his wife. Obviously the problem here is that M has no clue he’s there and he has no way to let her know. He simply exists as little more than a voyeur in his widow’s home as she navigates life without him.

As the days, weeks and years pass by, C watches the love of his life drift away, and a string of new people take over their home as he searches for the one thing that will allow him to move on. That search eventually leads him on a journey through his own memories, as well as the history and future of the place he held so dear to him during his lifetime.

 

Despite its fairly light running time – 87 minutes – “A Ghost Story” tackles a lot of heavy subjects – grief, love, loss, life after death. That, at least at times, made the tempo drag a bit. At first that bothered me. A lot, actually. But here’s the thing: the further removed I am from this film (in terms of when I saw it), the more I think about it and the more I appreciate it.

 

It’s steeped in symbolism and fairly short on dialogue in key moments, but that makes it all the more haunting and memorable. I think this is going to be a film that means different things to different people, and none of those things will be inherently right or inherently wrong.

 

While my overall thoughts on the film have changed in the 3-4 weeks since my initial viewing, one thing has remained constant throughout. The score created by composer Daniel Hart (who also worked with writer/director David Lowery on 2016’s “Pete’s Dragon”) is so powerful and moving that it truly steals the show. It drives the narrative more than the actors, the dialogue or the often surreal, dreamy imagery taking place. Had this been a silent film (which I’m not a fan of), I would’ve been 100% on board if they’d used the same score.

 

If you see “ghost” in the title and expect jump scares (or, really, scares of any kind), you’re going to be sorely disappointed. If you’re looking for something airy and quickly forgotten, look elsewhere. “A Ghost Story” will bore its way into your mind and not let go until it’s done with you.

 

★★★★1/2 of ★★★★★

 

Jared Huizenga is a freelance movie critic. Follow his work at www.facebook.com/JaredMovies.

 

 

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Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck in “A Ghost Story.” (Photo by Bret Curry, courtesy of A24)