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‘A Ghost Story’ haunts of indie vibes

By Peter Kougias
Hometown Weekly Intern

“Whatever hour you woke, there was a door shutting,” opens the film. Virginia Woolf's quote blatantly establishes the overall thematic tone of “A Ghost Story,” David Lowery’s supernatural drama.

The story begins with couple C (Rooney Mara) and M (Casey Affleck) wavering between their house and a new home. M dies in a car crash, resurrects underneath a hospital sheet, and lurks through the world, ultimately haunting the surroundings.

M creeps around the house similarly to Michael Myers’ ghost gag in “Halloween.” C spends her time running in and out, while taking an extravagant mental break to eat a whole pie. M watches as time goes by and lives among the new owners as time progresses. Tonally speaking, “A Ghost Story” comes off as being akin to “Beetlejuice” if it were directed by a hipster.

While the movie strays far from the horror genre, the drama is painted by familiar terrors. When M and C hear a bang one night, Affleck appears shirtless and Mara stumbles out wrapped in a sheet. This investigation mirrors Margot Kidder’s and James Brolin’s haunted flight in “The Amityville Horror.” Covered by a grungy shower curtain, a closeup of Rooney Mara cries of “The Last House on The Left.”

Commentary on communication develops when M becomes a ghost. Standing under his sheet, he waves to a neighbor ghost sitting in the window. They are obviously greeting each other with a polite gesture, but subtitles inform the audience they are saying “hello,” and guides their further conversations. Later, a family moves into the house and speaks Spanish, but closed captions are never provided. This suggests the fact that humans communicate the same way, even if the native tongue is unfamiliar.

Confined by the 1.37:1 images and lack of dialogue, the film begins to take on a nostalgic feel reminiscent of silent cinema. Mara anchors the film with her body language and facial expressions. Don’t be shocked by her newfound acclaim - she deserves the recognition.

Casey Affleck, on the other hand, stumbles from his Oscar win.

Back in 2010, two actresses sued Affleck for sexual harassment. Both were settled out of court through Affleck paying them off. This sweeping under the rug attitude is outrageous and abominable. The stigma “boys will be boys” needs to be addressed in the industry instead of turning the blind eye.

That aside, his soft voice and Boston mumbles distract the audience. Once the sheet is over his body, his character comes alive. Basically, anybody in Hollywood could have played his part.

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