This meditative exploration of love, loss and letting go is a far cry from writer/director David Lowery's previous film, last year's New Zealand-shot, family-friendly fantasy Pete's Dragon, but less removed from the film he made before that, 2013's Ain't Them Bodies Saints.
Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara (who also starred together in Saints) play a young couple whose life together comes to an abrupt end when Affleck dies in a car accident early on in the film. After Mara says her goodbyes at the morgue, Affleck raises from the slab, covered in a white sheet, and returns home to silently observe his widow attempting to move on.
Some time later, she moves away, but Affleck (still under the sheet) is unable (or unwilling) to follow her, and he stays in their house over the years as tenants come and go and time presses inevitably forward.
The set-up may seem a little low-concept, but the execution is confidently artful and emotionally intimate, sometimes excruciatingly so. Plus the film goes to some truly unexpected places.
The idea of the main figure having the appearance of somebody's last-minute Halloween costume may seem a bit off at first, but the subtly-effective aesthetic rendering of this figure moves the character beyond the cliche and closer to something you might see in a film by Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away).
Mara and Affleck communicate a huge amount without ever saying much, and Lowery's lingering camera places the audience firmly inside Affleck's ghostly perspective. The square-ish, old TV-style 1.33: 1 aspect ratio, complete with curved edges, makes the whole thing feel like a series of fading 1980s photographs.
A beautiful film with a cosmic power that creeps up on you, A Ghost Story is one of the most interesting American films of the year.
Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck
M (Offensive language)
Weird but good.
DID YOU KNOW...
It's a mystery that has plagued Blade Runner fans for more than 35 years - is Harrison Ford's character Rick Deckard a human or a replicant? Director Ridley Scott promises the question will be answered in the long-awaited sequel Blade Runner 2049.