All I needed to hear about the movie, “Ghosted,” was that it explored the aftermath of grief and loss and, of course, I was interested. Having lost my brother when I was 14, I have had a life-long interest in these topics.
“Ghosted” is the story of Sophie Schmitt, a Hamburg-based video artist, and her lover, Aing-Lee, a young woman from Taiwan. They meet when Aing-Li travels to Germany to visit an uncle, work in his restaurant, and uncover a secret about her birth.
We learn all of this in flashback. The movie actually begins the tale after Aing-Lee’s death. We don’t know how it happened for quite awhile. Or why. All we know is that Sophie, whom we first meet as she opens a video installation entitled “Remembrance” in Taiwan, featuring Aing-Lee, is sad, confused and lonely.
Enter Mei-Li, a Taiwanese journalist who first appears at the opening, trying earnestly to cajole Sophie into an interview about her relationship with Aing-Lee. Both women are drawn to one another, so much so that Sophie drops her guard and agrees to hang out with Mei-Li for the day, though she knows Mei-Li plans to write about it.
The day doesn’t end well. And so unfolds a push-pull storyline in which Mei-Li keeps popping back up in unexpected places, trying to investigate the story of Aing-Li’s death. For a while, it feels very much like a detective story — with the potential for an unexpected truth looming around the corner. Ultimately, it’s about searching from both sides — the living and the dead.
I’d love to say more about the plot, but I’d spoil the tension for you if I did.
I really liked this movie. There’s not a whole lot of depth or “ah-ha” to it. There aren’t any huge revelations about the nature of grief and loss. When the credits were rolling, I leaned over to Paul and said, “What I like most about these movies is the sense that they’re a visual travelogue.”
It’s true. We see Taiwan. We see Hamburg. We see it from an urban perspective. And we see it from the perspective of strangers visiting those countries. It’s also a travelogue on death and lost loved ones from a Taiwanese perspective.
As I said, it’s not a huge movie by any means, not in financing or in its point. But I’m grateful to co-writers Astrid Stroher and Monica Treut (who also directed) for this small window on the way another culture sees loss.
Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn is the author of The Empty Room: Surviving Sibling Loss, a memoir and journalistic exploration of sibling loss. Her brother, Ted, suffered from a rare immune deficiency disorder and spent 8 ½ years in an isolation room behind a plastic curtain before he died. He was one of two boys upon whom the movie “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble” was based. She is a contributing writer for More magazine, and has also written for Self, Discover, Psychology Today and Harper’s Bazaar, among other publications. Elizabeth is currently working on a new book, The Death of Cancer, with her father, Dr. Vincent T. DeVita. She lives in New York City with her husband, writer Paul Raeburn, and her son, Henry. To learn more about Elizabeth and her work go to: www.devitaraeburn.com or visit her blog: www.tedishere.blogspot.comTags: grief, hope