A Ghost Story
A Ghost Story is a 2017 American supernatural drama film written and directed by David Lowery. It stars Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo, Rob Zabrecky, Liz Franke and Kesha. Affleck plays a man who becomes a ghost and remains in the house he shares with his wife (Mara).
|A Ghost Story|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Lowery|
|Written by||David Lowery|
|Music by||Daniel Hart|
|Cinematography||Andrew Droz Palermo|
|Edited by||David Lowery|
|Box office||$1.9 million|
A musician lives with his wife in a small house in Dallas, Texas. They lead a happy life together, and are looking for a new home and planning their move. She tells him that before she moves away from a place, she likes to hide a note for herself there somewhere in case she ever returns. They occasionally hear strange noises in the house; one night they hear a loud bang in their living room, which contains a piano which came with the house, but cannot find the source of the noise.
The next morning, the husband is killed in a car accident in front of their house. At the hospital, his wife views his body before covering it with a sheet. The man awakens as a ghost, still covered in the sheet, and wanders through the hospital, invisible to others. A door of light opens before him, but he makes no attempt to approach it, and it closes. He walks home and watches his wife grieve. Through the window, he sees another sheet-covered ghost inside the house next door; this ghost wordlessly tells him that it is waiting for someone, but cannot remember who.
One night the wife arrives home with a man, whom she kisses. The ghost hurls books from the shelf and turns lights on and off. The wife later listens to a song written by her husband. She eventually decides to move out. Before she leaves, she writes a short note and hides it in a gap in a wall. The ghost picks at the gap but cannot retrieve the note.
A family moves into the house. The ghost watches them eat dinner, play the piano, and celebrate Christmas. He becomes more and more agitated, and the children sense and become upset by his presence. One night the ghost gets upset after seeing a framed photo of the happy family on the piano and knocks it down, then starts hurling plates and glasses from the kitchen cabinet in anger. The family moves away. The second ghost continues to wait next door.
At a party thrown by the next occupants, a partygoer delivers a philosophical monologue, positing that remnants of the past, such as Beethoven's symphonies, will linger in the collective human memory long past the collapse of civilization. The man then describes the Big Crunch theory, which concludes that the entire universe will eventually collapse back into a single atom and begin anew. The partygoers notice the lights flickering.
The house is eventually abandoned and becomes derelict. The ghost finally manages to slide the note out of the wall, but just as he does, bulldozers level the house, along with the house next door. As they look at each other atop the rubble of their former homes, the second ghost says it no longer thinks whomever it was waiting for will come. The second ghost then immediately vanishes from under its sheet, which crumples to the ground.
The man's ghost watches as a skyscraper is built where his house stood. He walks through the building under construction, then when it is completed as an office building, and finally goes out onto the roof, seeing a futuristic cityscape. The ghost jumps from the ledge and falls.
The ghost is then standing in an empty field, where a family of settlers are staking out a claim on which to build a house. He watches the family's young daughter, who is humming the song he wrote. She writes a note and hides it under a rock. The settler family are then shown dead after an attack, and the ghost watches as the daughter's corpse decays and the field grows over it.
Finally, the ghost is inside the house again, watching as his living self and his wife see it for the first time. He asks the realtor about the piano, which she says has "always been here." As he watches the couple, minor details of their lives start to emerge that differ from the life he and his wife led before his death, implying that rather than moving backwards in time, he has moved forward, into a subsequent iteration of the universe. This time, there is tension in the marriage, and the husband is resisting the idea of moving out. The night before his death, he tells his wife that he is ready to move. The ghost sits at the piano and strikes the keys, causing the noise that startled them at the beginning. Later, as the wife moves out, the ghost sees his earlier self (now a ghost also, but unaware of the other's presence) watching her leave. He goes to retrieve the note from the wall as before, and this time manages to reach it. Upon opening and reading the note, the ghost's sheet crumples and he vanishes.
During the spring of 2016, David Lowery began to write the screenplay for the film. He was scheduled for production after completing post-production on Pete's Dragon, his Disney live action film. Prior to this Lowery had wanted "for a while" to make a film featuring a man in a simple rudimentary ghost costume, telling Comingsoon.net, "I just loved that image. I love taking something that is understood to be funny or charming or sweet or naive and instilling it with some degree of gravity."  Finally, the chance to use such a plot device came when he and his wife got in an argument about moving back to Texas. Lowery began to write down the argument "thinking about my own attachment to physical spaces." Combining both ideas he came up with the basic concept for the movie fairly quickly. Lowery also used the film to work through what he termed "An existential crisis" brought on by reading an article about the possibility of a catastrophic earthquake. Lowery said, "I was not feeling optimistic about the future of mankind. I felt the world was on its way to ending. The film became my way of dealing with those issues."
Affleck's costume was more difficult to deal with than Lowery was prepared for. At first the team attempted to simply use a normal bed sheet. They soon found that even a king-sized sheet would not fully cover a grown adult male. The final costume required Affleck to wear other garments in addition to the normal fabric. The team also found they had to resort to some "puppeteering" to keep the eyes in place. Beyond the practical constraints of the costume, Lowery also found the simple costume impeded Affleck's ability to act, noting "every unique physical trait as a human being was pronounced and exaggerated by this sheet over his head." This did not give Lowery the results he wanted. Lowery eventually solved this problem by reducing the amount of movement so that "it became a matter of patience and posture and moving very specifically, slowly and rigidly." Some shots of the ghost, specifically those done during pickups or reshoots, do not use Affleck at all, instead replacing him with the film's art director, David Pink, who was found to have a similar build.
Principal photography began in June 2016. A majority of the film is set within a single house, which was chosen by Lowery because it closely resembled the first house he lived in with his wife. As the house was about to be demolished, the film crew were allowed to use it for free. The project was shot in secret as they did not know how the final product would turn out. Lowery chose to shoot the film in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, partially because he thought it was thematically appropriate for the film. "It’s about someone basically trapped in a box for eternity," he stated, "and I felt the claustrophobia of that situation could be amplified by the boxiness of the aspect ratio." 
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2017. Prior to the festival, A24 acquired worldwide distribution rights to the film. It was released on July 7, 2017.
The film grossed $104,030 from four theaters in its opening weekend for an average per-location gross of $26,008, finishing 26th at the box office.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91% based on 265 reviews, with a weighted average of 7.96/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A Ghost Story deftly manages its ambitious themes through an inventive, artful, and ultimately poignant exploration of love and loss." On Metacritic, which assigns an average rating to reviews, the film holds a score of 84 out of 100, based on 46 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Peter Debruge of Variety gave the film a positive review, writing: "While Lowery's actual method of delivery may not be scary, it's sure to haunt those who open themselves up to the experience." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter also gave the film a positive review, writing: "A poetic meditation on time, memory and spiritual connection that is utterly true to its title." Eric Kohn for IndieWire gave the film an 'A' rating, calling it "an extraordinary mood piece that amounts to [Lowery's] best movie yet." Gary Thomposon of the Philadelphia Inquirer gave the film two and a half stars out of four and writing: "The movie is trippy and almost willfully opaque—all I can say for sure is I left A Ghost Story feeling full."
On September 9, 2017, the film won three awards at the 43rd Deauville American Film Festival – the Revelation prize, the Critics Prize and the Jury Prize. David Lowery was also nominated for the Grand Special Prize, although he didn't win.
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref(s)|
|Boston Society of Film Critics||December 10, 2017||Best Film Editing||David Lowery||Won|||
|Deauville Film Festival||September 9, 2017||Revelation Prize||David Lowery||Won|||
|Critics Prize||David Lowery||Won|
|Jury Prize||David Lowery||Won|
|Grand Special Prize||David Lowery||Nominated|
|Fantasia Film Festival||August 3, 2017||Camera Lucida Award||David Lowery||Won|||
|Georgia Film Critics Association||January 12, 2018||Best Film||A Ghost Story||Nominated|||
|Best Original Song||"I Get Overwhelmed"||Nominated|
|Houston Film Critics Society||January 6, 2018||Best Original Song||"I Get Overwhelmed"||Nominated|||
|Texas Independent Film Award||A Ghost Story||Won|
|Independent Spirit Awards||March 3, 2018||John Cassavetes Award||A Ghost Story||Nominated|||
|National Board of Review||January 4, 2018||Top Ten Independent Films||A Ghost Story||Won|||
|Online Film Critics Society||December 28, 2017||Best Picture||A Ghost Story||Nominated|||
|Sitges Film Festival||October 14, 2017||Best Cinematography||Andrew Droz Palermo||Won|||
|Carnet Jove Jury Award||David Lowery||Won|
|Sundance Film Festival||January 22, 2017||Audience Award||David Lowery||Nominated|||
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