THIS tale of a man who dies young and lingers around the property where he and his wife once lived is bound to be one of the most divisive films of the year.
Its main character is a person who dies and spends the rest of the movie walking around mute, wearing a white sheet with eyeholes cut out of it.
The film is a ghost story, in the sense that there’s a ghost in it, but it’s also many other things: a love story, a science fiction-inflected story about time travel and time loops, and a story about loneliness and denial, and the ephemeral nature of the flesh, and the anxiousness that comes from contemplating the end of consciousness (provided there’s no life after death — and what if there isn’t?).
The characters are so archetypal that they don’t have names, just initials.
C (played by Casey Affleck) is a musician who lives with his wife M (Rooney Mara) in a small house surrounded by undeveloped property somewhere the vast flatness of Texas.
C dies in a car crash early in the story but continues to linger on as a ghost, silent observing his wife’s grief and her eventual exit from the home they once shared.
He stays in the house as new tenants move in, including a single mother (Liz Franke) and her two children (Carlos Bermudez and Yasmina Guiterrez).
Time keeps moving forward, and at a certain point the house gets levelled and replaced by a gigantic luxury condo-hotel type of development. C stays rooted to the spot where he died, as if he’s still stuck in the “denial” phase of the grieving process.