“We build our legacy piece by piece and maybe the whole world will remember you or maybe just a couple of people, but you do what you can to make sure you’re still around after you’re gone.”
I gained more insight of the possibilities of life after death from a ghost in a sheet than I have in thirty-one years from any textbook. The complexities of the afterlife may be more simple than we’ve imagined and may not be what we expect.
When I was growing up in the ’90s, I lived in a mansion in New Orleans that was built in 1900. It reeked of history in every crack and creak it possessed, and I always felt an unexplainable presence. Although I never saw her, three vital people in my life saw a little girl in that house, whom they thought was me, until she myseriously vanished.
We always labeled her as the ghost, a spirit of the past who possibily died in the house. But what if this “ghost” wasn’t a stranger? What if this girl was actually me, but from a different time or alternative dimension?
It’s a thought that never crossed my mind, but it’s a theory that A Ghost Story wants us to explore.
C (Casey Affleck) is a struggling musician living with his wife M (Rooney Mara) in a small suburban house in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. After a car accident takes C’s life, he returns as a white-sheeted ghost to his home to reconnect with his wife only to discover the enormity of existence and life after death.
An artistic exploration of love and loss, I warn you that this movie is a slow-burner. With extensively long, exaggerated takes within the first 30 minutes, I was concerned that I might snooze through this one, but my advice is to give it time and have patience. The payoff is worth your endurance of the film’s intentionally lethargic first act.
Director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) was so aware that this creative, experimental film may fall flat that he filmed it entirely in secret. Casey Affleck wearing a white bedsheet drifting from scene to scene may sound a little ludacris, but it managed to flesh out perfectly. As The Guardian explains, “The film ranks low for scares – it’s more likely to keep you up at night fretting about the meaning of life than to make you terrified of a spirit under the bed.”
Lowery was basically having an extistential crisis about the fate of humanity and writing/directing A Ghost Story was his therapy.
“The trigger, he says, was a Pulitzer-prize winning article by Kathryn Schulz in the New Yorker about an earthquake that scientists believe will take out a sizeable chunk of northwest America. ‘It freaked me out,’ he says. ‘I started piling on other fears: the political situation in the US and all over the world. I was not feeling optimistic about the future of mankind. I felt the world was on its way to ending. The film became my way of dealing with those issues.’” via The Guardian
There’s going to be a lot of people who watch this utterly disappointed in what they saw, because it won’t be what they expected. Maybe that’s why I loved it, but I’m afraid the majority of audiences won’t appreciate the experimental nature of the film and what it says about the afterlife. I felt more emotion and more depth from a 21st century Casper than I have from any other film this year.
When we moved out of my childhood home in 2003, none of us experienced anything supernatural again. Whether or not there is some truth behind A Ghost Story is obviously unknown, but I can tell you there’s something out there.
When I was little and we used to move all the time, I’d write these notes. And I’d fold them up really small, and I would hide them. What did they say? They were just things I wanted to remember so that if I ever wanted to go back, there’d be a piece of me there waiting for me.