Review: ‘A Ghost Story’ weaves compelling tale of loss

Your first instinct may be to laugh at it; get past that and absorb this somber, moody story

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

“A Ghost Story” is bold enough to dare you to laugh at it, but this somber tale of loss is not to be dismissed.

Just don’t go expecting a horror tale — or anything conventional, really — or you will walk out in a huff.

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara play a couple living in a small, modest home, likely in Texas. The movie doesn’t give them names — they’re identified in the credits as C and M — and it’s not long before C is killed in a car accident outside their home.

Cut to the morgue, where C is laying on a stretcher underneath a white sheet. Suddenly he springs up, leaves the room and returns to his home, still underneath the sheet, with two eye holes cut out in front like the childhood Halloween costume you probably wore when you were four. (At least I know I did.)

The sight of Affleck in a ghost costume could be a howler, and it’s initially jarring. Is this movie being serious?

It is, and writer-director David Lowery (“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” which also starred Affleck and Mara) paints a moody, moving portrait of grief. He frames it in a square shot with rounded edges so that it looks like an old photograph, giving the film the feel of a lost artifact. He spans time from the settler era to the age of skyscrapers, making a point that loss is forever, and wandering souls perpetually search for a home.

He also includes a scene where Mara wolfs down an entire pie while sitting on her kitchen floor before running to the bathroom and throwing it up, so who knows what’s really going on here? But whatever he’s concocted, “A Ghost Story” is an oddly haunting, wholly original trip.

(313) 222-2284


‘A Ghost Story’


Rated R for brief language and a disturbing image

Running time: 92 minutes