A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Ghost Story is an artful, poetic meditation on life, death, love, place, and other things. Although it's not a horror movie (despite the title), it has a few brief moments of strong violence, including a dead body in a car crash (with a trickle of blood on his forehead) and a family slaughtered by arrows. Bloodstains are shown, and their bodies decompose over time, rotting somewhat graphically. A couple is shown lying in bed, perhaps naked (nothing sensitive shown), and kissing tenderly. Language is sparse but does include a single use of "f--king" and a use of "s--t." Some background drinking (beer, liquor) is shown. This is a simple movie that casts a delicate spell; many may resist it (some viewers may find it ridiculous), but others will find it profoundly transporting. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara star.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In A GHOST STORY, a couple living together in a small Texas house argues. "C" (Casey Affleck) wants to stay in the house, but "M" (Rooney Mara) wants to move out. She's used to moving around and likes to hide little notes, stuck in the walls of homes she's lived in, as a way of leaving a piece of herself behind. The next day, C dies in a car crash, returning as a ghost. He silently watches M grieving, recovering, and -- eventually -- leaving. He watches others move into the house, sometimes haunting them, sometimes not. Time moves on, and things come and go. The picture grows larger and more cosmic, but the only thing the ghost really wants to see is what M left on her scrap of paper before she left their home.
Is it any good?
This very special movie casts a fine, delicate spell; many may resist it, but those who go along with it may find themselves profoundly moved, transported to a soul-stirring, poetically cosmic place. In A Ghost Story, writer/director David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Pete's Dragon) has created a deceptively small movie, confined in space (it uses the squarish, 1-to-1.33 screen aspect ratio), with very little dialogue and simple, spare effects. (The ghost is very deliberately nothing more than a guy in a sheet.)
But this simplicity is used to conjure mighty emotional reactions. Long, slow, still shots allow viewers to reflect on grief, death, life, love, and other things, while more startling transitions -- such as breathtaking leaps through time -- arouse larger, more existential questions. The haunting sound design and music are always note-perfect, and rarely, if ever, break the mood. A Ghost Story is everything from a heartbreakingly simple love story to a rumination on the meaning of place in our lives to a pondering of life itself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about A Ghost Story's violence. How frequently is it shown, and what is it meant to illustrate? How does it compare to what you've seen in other movies with supernatural themes? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Is the movie scary? Have you ever seen a movie about ghosts that wasn't scary? Are ghosts inherently scary?
The "prognosticator's" speech makes it sound as if life is pointless. Do you agree or disagree with his ideas? What might be some issues with his thinking?
What do you think was written on the scrap of paper? Does it matter to the story to know for sure? Why or why not?
- In theaters: July 7, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: October 3, 2017
- Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Will Oldham
- Director: David Lowery
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: brief language and a disturbing image
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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