I rarely enjoy a movie where I start out hating the main character so much that it makes the film painful to watch. I’m glad I stuck through this one, though, so that I could witness the transformation of Brody (Scott Graham) from a bore to a man who has reached the pinnacle of self-actualization all due to his death. It was difficult, but well worth it.
Brody is a man most people would describe as a “loser.” He lost the woman he loves, he only sees his daughter part-time, he drinks far too much, and he can’t seem to hold a job. But what if things were different? What if he got to live the kind of life he always wanted? What different paths would he choose? Would things actually be better, or would they be far worse? Those are the questions this movie explores, and it does a fine job of it.
“Ghosts of Hamilton Street” is more of an emotional journey than a straight-forward story. It exposes its audience to Brody’s shortcomings, which in turn makes us examine our own failings. And when Brody finally starts to understand that he is in a series of strange alternative realities somehow brought on by his passing, we are treated to some “what-ifs” that will hopefully cause us to muse the same questions as our main character. Like Brody, we are never quite sure why all of this is occurring. We have a definite sense of what is going on — again, like Brody — but it still feels slightly off kilter, which enables us to focus on the moral questions instead of the logic of the plot. That’s a tough act to pull off, but Mike Flanagan, the director and writer (along with Dave Foster), does it with the skill of a surgeon.
If introspection and inner dialogue are more to your liking than explosions and the standard car chases, then you owe it to yourself to experience this film. Just be prepared to seriously examine your own life and ask yourself some tough questions. If you see this film and it doesn’t do that, then you may be more like Brody than you think.