Skip to content

Some directors can take two actors and make a relationship so real it bleeds through the screen. David Lowery struck a chord in audiences with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a gorgeous melodrama of two lovers (Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck) separated by a prison sentence. He reunites the two in A Ghost Story, once again playing lovers. Married couple C (Affleck) and M (Mara) are torn apart by tragedy. What follows is a poetic examination on grief as M builds the life she wanted without her husband, all the while C is lingering behind in spirit. Lowery has previously said that he cast Affleck and Mara for their “timeless quality” during Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, but clearly there’s another level behind his casting of them as two sets of lovers torn apart by circumstance. Note: we’ll be discussing both A Ghost Story and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, so take heed if you don’t like spoilers. 

Mara and Affleck’s turn as a couple must end tragically, with Affleck dying as Mara finds a way to move on. This is the plot of A Ghost Story as the entire film is C watching the life he so desired, continue without him; however, this thread is also the emotional crux of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Ruth (Mara) is left behind as Bob (Affleck) goes to prison in her stead, birthing their child and carrying on without her husband. As Bob makes his way back to her, Ruth slowly gives up the life they had planned to lead and instead chooses to move on with her daughter. The stories of Ruth and Bob as well as C and M need a couple who are so in love, so intertwined spiritually that their ultimate fates must be transparent to the audience, but leave the lovers blissfully ignorant. Affleck has a great talent; the ability to balance blue collar sentiment with a quiet loving devotion such as in Manchester by the Sea. Meanwhile Mara has made a career out of playing her soft features against an inner strength, falling in love and moving on in such films as Carol and Song to Song. Under Lowery’s direction, they come across as a couple befitting a fairytale with an effortless charm. It’s easy to sympathize when Mara’s characters are forced to move on, as she never truly abandons her past life for someone new. Yet, we desperately want Affleck’s characters to come back into her life, to capture that once golden feeling of love.

Make yourself heard!