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
A Ghost Story poster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDavid Lowery
Produced by
  • Toby Halbrooks
  • James M. Johnston
  • Adam Donaghey
Written byDavid Lowery
Starring
Music byDaniel Hart
CinematographyAndrew Droz Palermo
Edited byDavid Lowery
Production
company
  • Sailor Bear
  • Zero Trans Fat Productions
  • Ideaman Studios
  • Scared Sheetless
Distributed byA24
Release date
  • January 22, 2017 (2017-01-22) (Sundance)
  • July 7, 2017 (2017-07-07) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$100,000[2]
Box office$1.9 million[3]

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2017, and was released by A24 on July 7, 2017.

PlotEdit

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.

CastEdit

  • Casey Affleck as C
  • Rooney Mara as M
  • Will Oldham as Prognosticator
  • Sonia Acevedo as Maria
  • Rob Zabrecky as Pioneer Man
  • Liz Franke as Linda
  • Grover Coulson as Man in Wheelchair
  • Kenneisha Thompson as Doctor
  • Barlow Jacobs as Gentleman Caller
  • McColm Sephas Jr. as Little Boy
  • Kesha Sebert as Spirit Girl

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

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.[4] 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." [5] 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.[5] 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."[6]

The project was officially announced in November 2016, confirming Mara and Affleck had been cast in the film.[7][8] It was later revealed Kesha would appear in the film.[9][10]

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.[11] The final costume required Affleck to wear other garments in addition to the normal fabric.[11] The team also found they had to resort to some "puppeteering" to keep the eyes in place.[11] 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."[11] 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.[12]

FilmingEdit

Principal photography began in June 2016.[13][14] 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.[15] As the house was about to be demolished, the film crew were allowed to use it for free.[16] The project was shot in secret as they did not know how the final product would turn out.[17][18] 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." [11]

MusicEdit

Daniel Hart composed the score for the film as another collaboration with David Lowery. It was released by Milan Records on July 7, 2017.[19]

ReleaseEdit

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 2017.[20][21][22] Prior to the festival, A24 acquired worldwide distribution rights to the film.[23] It was released on July 7, 2017.[24]

Box officeEdit

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.[25]

ReceptionEdit

Critical responseEdit

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."[26] 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".[27]

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."[28] 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."[29] Eric Kohn for IndieWire gave the film an 'A' rating, calling it "an extraordinary mood piece that amounts to [Lowery's] best movie yet."[30] 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."[31]

Richard Brody, writing for The New Yorker, included A Ghost Story in his list of the decade's 27 best films.[32]

AccoladesEdit

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.[33]

On October 14, 2017, the film won two awards at the Catalonian International Film Festival; Best photography and the Carnet Jove Jury.[34]

At the Fantasia Film Festival the film won the Camera Lucida Award.[35]

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 [36]
Deauville Film Festival September 9, 2017 Revelation Prize David Lowery Won [33]
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 [37]
Georgia Film Critics Association January 12, 2018 Best Film A Ghost Story Nominated [38]
Best Original Song "I Get Overwhelmed" Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society January 6, 2018 Best Original Song "I Get Overwhelmed" Nominated [39]
Texas Independent Film Award A Ghost Story Won
Independent Spirit Awards March 3, 2018 John Cassavetes Award A Ghost Story Nominated [40]
National Board of Review January 4, 2018 Top Ten Independent Films A Ghost Story Won [41]
[42]
Online Film Critics Society December 28, 2017 Best Picture A Ghost Story Nominated [43]
[44]
Sitges Film Festival October 14, 2017 Best Cinematography Andrew Droz Palermo Won [45]
Carnet Jove Jury Award David Lowery Won
Sundance Film Festival January 22, 2017 Audience Award David Lowery Nominated [46]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "A GHOST STORY (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  2. ^ Mondello, Bob (July 7, 2017). "Grief Hangs Around At Home In 'A Ghost Story'". All Things Considered. NPR.
  3. ^ "A Ghost Story (2017)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved September 27, 2017.
  4. ^ Lowery, David (December 12, 2016). "A Ghost Movie and a Marathon". Road Dog Productions. Archived from the original on 2017-05-06. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Lesnick, Silas (July 6, 2017). "CS Interview: David Lowery Has A Ghost Story Worth Telling". ComingSoon.net. CraveOnline Media. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  6. ^ Clarke, Cath (August 9, 2017). "David Lowery on why he made A Ghost Story: 'I was freaking out, having an existential crisis'". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  7. ^ Raup, Jordan (November 22, 2016). "Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara Secretly Shot a New Feature With David Lowery This Summer". The Film Stage. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  8. ^ Murthi, Vikram (November 22, 2016). "Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck Shot A Secret New Film With David Lowery". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  9. ^ Flaherty, Keely (January 26, 2017). "Kesha Made A Surprise Cameo In A Sundance Movie About Ghosts And Love". BuzzFeed. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  10. ^ Ryan, Patrick (July 5, 2017). "Everything you need to know about Kesha's surprise 'Ghost Story' cameo". USA Today. Gannett Company. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d e Lee, Ashley (July 7, 2017). "'A Ghost Story': David Lowery on Directing Casey Affleck Under a Sheet and Adding That Kesha Cameo". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved July 10, 2017.
  12. ^ Zuckerman, Esther (July 11, 2017). "David Lowery had to stop himself from giving up on his Sundance hit A Ghost Story". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  13. ^ Lowery, David (December 12, 2016). "A Ghost Movie and a Marathon". Road Dog Productions. Archived from the original on 2017-11-04. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  14. ^ IndieWire Staff (November 15, 2016). "Sundance Wish List: 53 Films We Hope Will Head to Park City in 2017". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 22, 2016.
  15. ^ Stefansky, Emma (July 6, 2017). "A Ghost Story: How Sheet-Covered Casey Affleck Became Summer's Most Haunting Hero". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  16. ^ Ryan, Mike (July 6, 2017). "Please, The Director Begs You, Do Not Make A Meme Out Of 'A Ghost Story'". Uproxx. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  17. ^ Ehrlich, David (January 27, 2017). "Making 'A Ghost Story': How David Lowery Exorcised His Demons To Make The Best Film Of Sundance 2017". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  18. ^ Olsen, Mark (July 6, 2017). "Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck and David Lowery keep some secrets with 'A Ghost Story'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  19. ^ filmusicreporter (May 3, 2017). "'A Ghost Story' Soundtrack Details". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved September 6, 2017.
  20. ^ "2017 Sundance Film Festival: Competition And Next Lineup Announced". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  21. ^ "A Ghost Story". Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  22. ^ "Printable Film Guide" (PDF). Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Institute. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  23. ^ Seetoodeh, Ramin (January 8, 2017). "Sundance: Casey Affleck's 'A Ghost Story' Sells to A24 (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
  24. ^ Lee, Ashley (March 28, 2017). "'A Ghost Story' Trailer: Casey Affleck Is Stuck Under a White Sheet With Eyeholes". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  25. ^ Brooks, Brian (July 9, 2017). "Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara Scare Up Robust Debut For 'A Ghost Story' – Specialty Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  26. ^ "A Ghost Story (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  27. ^ "A Ghost Story Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  28. ^ Debruge, Peter (January 22, 2017). "Sundance Film Review: Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara in 'A Ghost Story'". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  29. ^ Rooney, David (January 22, 2017). "'A Ghost Story': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  30. ^ Kohn, Eric (January 22, 2017). "'A Ghost Story' Review: Casey Affleck Stars in David Lowry's Drama". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 23, 2017.
  31. ^ Thompson, Gary (July 19, 2017). "Casey Affleck gives a really sheety performance in 'A Ghost Story'". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  32. ^ Nast, Condé. "The Twenty-Seven Best Movies of the Decade". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2019-11-28.
  33. ^ a b Keslassy, Elsa (September 9, 2017). "'A Ghost Story,' 'Menashe,' 'The Rider' Win Prizes at 43rd Deauville American Film Festival". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  34. ^ "The fantastic fable 'Jupiter's Moon' wins Sitges 2017". Sitges Film Festival. Archived from the original on December 16, 2017. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  35. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (August 3, 2017). "Fantasia 2017 Comes to a Close: Winners For All Categories Announced". Dread Central. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  36. ^ Lewis, Hilary (December 10, 2017). "'Phantom Thread' Named Best Film by Boston Society of Film Critics". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
  37. ^ Collis, Clark (June 13, 2017). "A Ghost Story, Mohawk, and Larry Cohen doc to screen at Fantasia Film Festival". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  38. ^ "2017 Awards". Georgia Film Critics Association. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  39. ^ Darling, Cary (December 12, 2017). "'The Shape of Water' inundates Houston critics' film awards nominations". Houston Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  40. ^ Sharf, Zack (November 21, 2017). "2018 Independent Spirit Award Nominations". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  41. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 28, 2017). "National Board Of Review Winners: 'The Post' Comes Up Strong With Best Pic, Best Actress Meryl Streep, Best Actor Tom Hanks". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  42. ^ Buckley, Cara (November 28, 2017). "'The Post' Lands Top National Board of Review Prizes". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
  43. ^ Governing Committee (December 18, 2017). "Online Film Critics Society 2017 Award Nominees". Online Film Critics Society. Archived from the original on December 20, 2017. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  44. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 28, 2017). "'Get Out' Named Best Picture By Online Film Critics Society". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  45. ^ Motamayor, Rafael (October 19, 2017). "Sitges 2017 Review: A Ghost Story will not scare you, but make you cry". Geek with an Afro. Archived from the original on 2018-01-13. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  46. ^ Lawson, Richard (January 25, 2017). "Eerie, Existential A Ghost Story Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast. Retrieved January 13, 2018.

External linksEdit