A Ghost Story
|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 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, and Liz Franke. Affleck plays a man who becomes a ghost and remains in the house he shares with his wife (Mara).
A musician lives with his wife in a small house in Dallas, Texas. She wants to move, but he does not. One night, they hear a bang on their piano but cannot find the cause.
The husband is killed in a car accident in front of their house. At the hospital, his wife views his body and covers it with a sheet. The man awakens as a ghost covered in the sheet, and wanders through the hospital, invisible. A door of light opens before him, but he doesn't step towards it, and it closes. He walks home and watches his wife grieve over time. He spots another sheeted ghost inside the house next door; wordlessly, the ghost tells him that she is waiting for someone, but cannot remember who.
When the wife comes home with another man and kisses him, the ghost hurls books from the shelf and turns lights on and off. The wife listens to a song written by her husband. She decides to move out; before she leaves, she writes a note and hides it in a gap in a wall. The ghost picks at the wall but cannot retrieve the note.
A family moves in. The ghost watches them eat dinner, play piano, and celebrate Christmas. The children sense and are bothered by his presence, and the family moves out after he hurls plates from the kitchen cabinet in anger. The second ghost continues to wait next door. At a party thrown later by the next occupants, the ghost listens to a man describe his theories about how people try to create a legacy, but everything is ultimately destroyed. The partygoers notice the lights flicker.
The house eventually goes abandoned and derelict. As the ghost manages to remove a piece of the wall concealing the note, bulldozers level it along with the house next door. As they look at each other atop their houses' rubble, the second ghost says she no longer thinks the person she is waiting for will come, and vanishes.
The man's ghost watches as a skyscraper is built on the land. He climbs to the roof, revealing a futuristic cityscape. The ghost jumps from the ledge, falls, and is transported in time and sees a family of settlers arrive and start building a homestead. He watches the family's young daughter, humming his song, write a note and hide it under a rock like his wife described doing herself as a child. The settler family are then shown dead after an attack, and the ghost watches the daughter's corpse decay and get overgrown by grass.
He is transported in time again and watches as he and his wife move into the house. They argue about moving out. When his earlier self 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. Later as the wife moves out, the ghost sees his earlier self (now a ghost) watching her leave. He then goes to retrieve the note from the wall as before, but this time he succeeds. The house's front door swings open, and upon opening and reading the note the ghost vanishes leaving only his sheet.
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 to "for a while" 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 90% based on 263 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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