A Ghost Story

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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]

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).

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

Plot[edit]

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. He comes to a door of light, but turns away, and it closes. He returns to his house and watches his wife grieve as time passes. He sees 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 a 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 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 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 becomes abandoned and derelict. As the ghost manages to remove a piece of the wall concealing the note, bulldozers level it and the house next door. The second ghost says she no longer thinks the person she is waiting for is coming, and vanishes.

The man's ghost watches as a skyscraper is built on the land. On the roof, he views a futuristic cityscape. He jumps from the edge and is transported to the 19th century, where a family of settlers are building a house. He watches as the family's young daughter hums the song he wrote while alive and hides a note under a rock. After the family is killed by Native Americans, the ghost watches the daughter decay into the grass.

Decades later, the ghost watches as his past self and wife move into the house. They argue about moving out. After the man tells his wife that he is ready to move out, the ghost sits at the piano, striking the keys and causing the noise that wakes the couple. As the wife moves out, the ghost sees his earlier ghost watching her leave. He manages to retrieve the note from the wall, reads it, and vanishes.

Cast[edit]

  • 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 as Spirit Girl

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

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 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." [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 on 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]

Filming[edit]

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]

Music[edit]

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]

Release[edit]

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 office[edit]

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]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91% based on 231 reviews, with a weighted average of 8/10. 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]

Accolades[edit]

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.[32]

On October 14, 2017, the film won two awards at the Catalonian International Film Festival; Best photography and the Carnet Jove Jury.[33]

At the Fantasia Film Festival the film won the Camera Lucida Award.[34]

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 [35]
Deauville Film Festival September 9, 2017 Revelation Prize David Lowery Won [32]
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 [36]
Georgia Film Critics Association January 12, 2018 Best Film A Ghost Story Nominated [37]
Best Original Song "I Get Overwhelmed" Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society January 6, 2018 Best Original Song "I Get Overwhelmed" Nominated [38]
Texas Independent Film Award A Ghost Story Won
Independent Spirit Awards March 3, 2018 John Cassavetes Award A Ghost Story Nominated [39]
National Board of Review January 4, 2018 Top Ten Independent Films A Ghost Story Won [40]
[41]
Online Film Critics Society December 28, 2017 Best Picture A Ghost Story Nominated [42]
[43]
Sitges Film Festival October 14, 2017 Best Cinematography Andrew Droz Palermo Won [44]
Carnet Jove Jury Award David Lowery Won
Sundance Film Festival January 22, 2017 Audience Award David Lowery Nominated [45]

References[edit]

  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 June 26, 2018.
  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. ^ 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.
  33. ^ "The fantastic fable 'Jupiter's Moon' wins Sitges 2017". Sitges Film Festival. Archived from the original on December 16, 2017. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  34. ^ Barkan, Jonathan (August 3, 2017). "Fantasia 2017 Comes to a Close: Winners For All Categories Announced". Dread Central. Retrieved December 15, 2017.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ "2017 Awards". Georgia Film Critics Association. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  38. ^ Darling, Cary (December 12, 2017). "'The Shape of Water' inundates Houston critics' film awards nominations". Houston Chronicle. Hearst Newspapers. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  39. ^ Sharf, Zack (November 21, 2017). "2018 Independent Spirit Award Nominations". IndieWire. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 21, 2017.
  40. ^ 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.
  41. ^ 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.
  42. ^ Governing Committee (December 18, 2017). "Online Film Critics Society 2017 Award Nominees". Online Film Critics Society. Retrieved December 18, 2017.
  43. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 28, 2017). "'Get Out' Named Best Picture By Online Film Critics Society". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  44. ^ 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.
  45. ^ 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 links[edit]