A Ghost Story ★★★★½

Rooney Mara, known here as only 'M,' slips right into the quiet devastation of a woman whose lover left too soon, in a role that was likely tailor made for her by previous collaborator David Lowery. I find her to be an endlessly intriguing actress, with an understated quality to her work that feels utterly fearless in its vulnerability. The much talked about pie-eating scene could've been a lesser actor's "Oscar moment" of overplayed emotions, but Mara is completely unafraid to just let herself feel the devastation. And however it happens to manifest in her body language, so be it. The result is a performance that can easily be overlooked if you're not paying attention, but if you do you'll see it's all there. In my useless opinion, actors like her are redefining the "Oscar moment."

There's another scene that cuts between a flashback of M listening to a song that C (played by Rapey Problemaffleck) is playing for her on some headphones, to her present day, lying on the floor listening to the same song with feeble little Apple earphones. The flashback is tinged with the warm glow of a nearby lamp and the beautiful music fills the speakers in the theatre, in direct contrast to the present day where M is bathed in the cold blue-grey light of the dreary day as we hear only a muffled shred of the same song coming from the earphones dangling from her ears, completely unaware the ghost of her former lover is just inches away from her empty hand.

This film is built on the foundation of sobering realities such as these, as it follows C's ghost throughout time, observing his former property's different existences. Its new inhabitants carrying on with no mind of the love that was shared there at a certain point in time. Even traveling back to colonial times and witnessing the tragic deaths of an entire family on that very property that he himself was ignorant of.

Moments like these, peppered liberally throughout the brief 90-minute run time, elevated the film to a certain level of poignance that I wasn't quite expecting. Each scene carries with it the weight of life's inconsequence and yet I left the theatre feeling a certain sense of meaning in my own.

"I'm waiting for someone."
"Who?"
"I don't remember."

Bonus Points
For ending exactly when and how it should. Perfect.

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