Posted Aug 09 2017

A Ghost Story - This Ponderous Movie Does Not Rock

Dir: David Lowery

Starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Some Sheets

When Rooney Mara is called to the morgue to identify her dead in a car crash lover Casey Affleck, she covers his body with a sheet. Which is just as well, as that’s where Casey remains for the duration of this rather tedious meditation on the nature of grief and the concept of haunting.

He literally becomes every child’s first Halloween costume – a sheet with two cut-out eye holes, and returns to the house he and Mara shared and, well, stands there. And stares at her. Not that there’s much to see, Mara is in tune with Lowery’s slow groove here, a pacing issue that makes a narcoleptic snail look quite lively by comparison. Thus we get to watch her think about closing the lid on her kitchen bin – for many, many seconds. When she decides to eat a pie – cherry or possibly apple, we never really find out – we sit with her for the entire time while she eats the ENTIRE pie. And that’s (no joke) around several minutes of our lives we’ll never fucking see again. (And when she goes to sleep afterwards, we were just praying she didn't get the full eight hours in case we had to go there right along with her.)

All the while, Casey’s sheet looks on.

There are a handful of interesting notions and images in A Ghost Story – the moment when abandoned Casey Sheet sees another sheet in the window next door, the sight of a ghost trying to kill itself by plummeting off a high-rise, Casey Sheet turning all poltergeist when a Mexican family move in (is this sheet a Trump Sheet?), and so on. And when Mara moves out we come to terms with the fact that he is not haunting her, but condemned to haunt the house itself, much as he seems to be condemned to some form of eternity.

But it’s too little to make much of. Lowery’s elegiac tone, and the absurdist notion of ghosts actually looking like how we imagined them when we were young, seems like a nice idea that all involved find nowhere to go with. And whilst its journeys through times (plurals intended) might eventually lead to an ending that is more or less satisfying in its circular nature, it doesn’t justify the dullness of what’s preceded it.

Don’t call it a tone poem. Call it a bore.

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