A Ghost Story

A film that was not at all what I was expecting, and which consequently took me quite a while to process. I’m still partially doing that, to be honest.

What had I been expecting? Well, I’d been half-waiting for Casey Affleck to break my heart for the second time this year. But that didn’t happen. I thought I might have been a little scared (I’m not a fan of horror). But I wasn’t.

Instead, I was mesmerised by the long takes, the silences, the fixed camera shots.

The first section sets up the relationship between Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. We can see that they care deeply about each other. We assume they have been together for quite a while given their conversations and interactions. And we can also see that, despite their closeness, not everything is perfect. All this makes the relationship real and mature.

And then, poor Casey meets his end. Rooney deals with the grief in her way, and Casey ends up still hanging around their house, covered in a sheet, unable to properly move on. There are a number of extended shots where the camera is fixed and we just wait, and wait, and wait. Sometimes something is happening slowly. Sometimes nothing happens for a long time. But each time we’re forced to take in tiny details, or just ‘be’ there as part of the story.

And then, the film makes a huge change in theme. Instead of being about very personal grief and connection, it becomes about the nature of death, time and memory, and deals in vast themes, all featuring a man in a sheet.

At one point, a self-centred, loud-mouthed hipster essentially mansplains the meaning of the film at a party, and it was the only point at which I tuned out of the film. But we see Casey not being able to move on, and we begin to understand how important the house is in that.

I did like A Ghost Story. I just can’t work out yet whether I liked it a lot, or completely loved it. But it’s still with me. Much like Casey, I feel the film is standing in the corner of my room observing me while other things happen in my life.

The final scene is open to interpretation and will be viewed differently by many. On leaving the cinema I was puzzled by it but I have since formed an opinion which, for me, makes sense of what I have seen.

Now, can we talk about “the pie scene” for a moment? Even if you haven’t seen this film, you may well have heard that “Rooney Mara eats a whole pie in one take”.

Firstly, she doesn’t. She eats maybe a third of it. It’s a big pie, admittedly, and full of chocolate, but that tiny little woman did not eat a full pie.

Secondly. That’s not a pie. A pie has a lid. What Rooney ate was a tart. Rooney ate half a tart.

 

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