A Ghost Story

Film, Fantasy
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A Ghost Story

Casey Affleck dons a white sheet to play a ghost in David Lowery's hypnotically beautiful and strange supernatural indie

As lovely, mysterious and cosmic as horror movies get, 'A Ghost Story' is eerily quiet right from the start. In its early scenes, we see a house, sitting behind a front lawn. Inside it lives a thirtyish couple, nameless throughout, played by Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. From dribs and drabs of dialogue, we feel a little tension, yet when the camera lingers over them in their bedroom, we feel a connection. They kiss gently, and the spooning session is of a piece with the movie’s skyward-tipping Terrence Malick–like shots, composer Daniel Hart’s aching orchestral shimmers, and fields of swirling stars.

Writer-director David Lowery (who directed Affleck and Mara in the similarly interior 'Ain’t Them Bodies Saints') adjusts us to a slower pace for reasons that pay off beautifully. Widening out on another foggy morning, we take in the shocking sight of a smoking car wreck, with Affleck’s character dead behind the wheel. He’s gone, and before you brace for the clichés of typical movie grieving, we notice – well, a ghost, and one in a white bed sheet with black cut-out eyes. At first it sits up on a hospital trolley, almost confused. It meanders down the fluorescent-lit hallway, unnoticed. And it turns up in the corner of the couple’s living room, like some weird lamp.

Don’t be ashamed to giggle. The collision of styles – a cartoonish, Halloween-costume-grade spectre haunting a quiet indie – is the point where 'A Ghost Story' asks the most of us. But how thrilling it is to be challenged. Lowery is spending the capital he’s earned on big gigs like 'Pete’s Dragon' to make something bizarre and experimental, and as his film starts flitting through the weeks in unannounced leaps, you’ll appreciate his gamble. The ghost is remarkably expressive. It’s a lonely, stranded figure, unable to make like Patrick Swayze with a potter’s wheel or cry out its love.

Instead, the movie blooms around it. Mara excels during these scenes, especially during one breathless five-minute long take in which she sits alone on the floor of her kitchen and gobbles down a pie left by a consoling friend. 'A Ghost Story' often feels like an invasion of her privacy, and the intimacy speaks volumes about the way life goes on. The ghost can’t leave – it never will, even after a new family moves in or the house is razed for a sleek office-building years in the future. Lowery is committing to nothing less than the scope of eternity; frankly, sometimes it feels like it. But by doing so, he does more to explore supernatural sadness than any thriller I can think of. He’s crafted something strange and wonderful.

By: Joshua Rothkopf

Posted:

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday August 11 2017
Duration: 92 mins

Cast and crew

Director: David Lowery
Screenwriter: David Lowery
Cast: Rooney Mara
Casey Affleck
Sonia Acevedo

Average User Rating

2.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:3
LiveReviews|7
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1 of 1 found helpful

l found this film unconvincing.It has scenes of pathos but many other scenes of directionless twaddle. She comes home and you get a 10 minute shot of her eating a pie whilst the bed sheet looks on.The whole,film seems to have been made up as it was being shot,scene by scene.l love the art house genre but this is a director getting in above his head and the result being a messy mishmash of a film..The bed sheet really is just daft as their could have been many other ways of visually portraying the ghost.One thing does stand out and that is Rooney Mara,who off screen dresses like a bench tramp and has very short gay haircuts,but here in this film she is an aquiline beauty with her elongated features and long hair.2 stars

Tastemaker

This film is an example of why so many people distrust film critics. A Ghost Story is ponderous, in love with itself, and afflicted with distracting sound design that gives the impression of having been filmed next to an air conditioner. It's striking to look at, yes, but this should have been one idea of several, rather than the whole idea for the film. And it's preposterous for this to be billed as a love story when there's absolutely no sense of why the two characters are in love.

Tastemaker

I knew I had to watch A Ghost Story when my friend who works in film said it is one of the best things he has seen in a while. However, I have 2 confessions about my viewing experience. First, I watched this on the tiny screen of an airplane. Second, I never got to the end, despite trying VERY VERY hard to stay interested. I think this film should come with a warning that says you HAVE to be really in the mood for an artsy an sophisticated one. I think given a different setting and time, I would have loved this too and raved about it. However, it started slow, continued slow, and my guess is ended with a great plot twist. I will have to give this another chance and try to reach that eventual climax.

Tastemaker

Don't get confusted from the title thinking of a horror movie; this is a trully romantic story of a ghost's life. And it manages to keep your attention till the last minute. Not everyone's taste, quite quirky, slow, with every director's plan being a beutiful picture. If you want to see something different, do honesty try and see this movie.

tastemaker

A Ghost Story was never really going to be to everyone's taste, but there is a lot about it that's wonderful. For a start, the aesthetic is wonderful: the whole film looks like a series of vintage Polaroids. There is also the interesting play on the idea of grief - is it the living or the dead who are mourning? Furthermore, the soundtrack is beautiful.

The slow pace and lack of dialogue might be off-putting for some, but I enjoyed it. If you like your films action-packed, this isn't for you, however, if you're a photography geek, or enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary, then this one may be a good shout for you.


Despite its high rating on IMDB which is often quite accurate, this movie was extremely disappointing. Slow-paced, inconclusive and lacks substance.  

tastemaker

In spite of the feeble trailer I thought the participation of Casey Affleck, and favorable ratings in the press promised something worthwhile. The film I found to be very puzzling, and rather unsatisfying.

The soundtrack I rather enjoyed, Daniel Hart's music is very pleasing & quite soothing, and the film did make me re-examine my own cliche perceptions of a ghost. However when "our ghost" starts waving to the ghost next door, I did feel like maybe we were all being taken for a ride, but to be on the safe side I'll given it 3 stars.