Doing it Through a Hole in a Sheet

A slow, understated and painfully affecting story about loss and time; A Ghost Story is a film I slept on in 2017 and absolutely regret not catching it in its theatrical release.

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara portray a young married couple, credited only as C and M -  a very real one (except for Affleck's body - was he training for an action movie? Why the abs?) with relationship ups and downs and a convincing connection. They play it low key and their pairing pays off in the smaller notes and quiet moments, which are the main fabric of the story.

The movie is framed, literally, through a square viewing screen, given the feeling that you're watching the events through a crack in the wall, or through eyeholes cut into a sheet. It's intimate while distant, like being an unseen ghost in the room. The plot is simple; a young couple's life together is ended prematurely by the husband's death. The husband remains in the earthly realm, unable to leave his wife or the home they built together. He takes on the appearance of a man with a sheet over his body and occasionally, in moments of emotional intensity, causes disruptions in the physical world.

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Time slips and loops in a manner that feels familiar, making me as a viewer understand how this lonely entity perceives time. Much of the first half of the movie is spent with C simply watching M as she lives on without him. There are flashbacks to their relationship, arguments and distances growing as well as their deep love for each other. He stays in the house - forever trying to retrieve a note that she left in a crack in the wall - an old childhood habit of hers - which is his last connection to this world as people come in and out of the house and it is eventually demolished.

When the house goes down, C is emotionally and spiritually unanchored, slipping into the past and future - what does any of that mean to a ghost whose only reason for existing is a longing for the life he once had? This is my first viewing of a movie by David Lowery and I'll surely investigate his other work. He seems to be working on a project about Jack Parsons, a pet obsession of mine, so I’m feeling an affinity. Like all relationships, A Ghost Story can test the viewer's patience as well as reward it.