A Ghost Story


‘…A Ghost Story is a mood piece and not for everyone, but it’s also a brave and original piece of cinema that muses thoughtful on the big issues…’

Ghosts, ghosts, ghosts…we see them every day, but how much do we know or understand about the spectral figures who appear so regularly in our lives? Director David Lowery has covered a number of bases with his output so far, from nihilistic romance (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) to children’s adventure (Pete’s Dragon) to retro feelgood crime romps (The Old Man and the Gun) to CGI-heavy takes on epic literature (The Green Knight) so he seems like he might be a good person to ask about exactly what these mysterious things that go bump in the night are… Lowery’s A Ghost Story is an experimental piece of work that announces its art-house pretentions with a squared-off Academy ratio. Trapping the image in the centre of the screen works for this transcendental meditation of life and death; Casey Affleck plays C, whose relationship with M (Rooney Mara) is cut short abruptly by a car accident; this isn’t Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, so don’t expect the kind of sweet resolution that was offered in Ghost… Having shuffled off this mortal coil, C gets up from the mortician’s slab, and returns home under the traditional ‘white-sheet and eyeholes’ garb of a ghost, only to find that she cannot see him; he watches in agony as, grief-stricken, she eats an entire pie from the fridge, but is unable to connect with her grief. Even after M finally moves on and moves out, C remains doomed to haunt the same space he previously lived in, until he spots another ghost in a neighbouring house…. Sure, A Ghost Story is a mood piece and not for everyone, but it’s also a brave and original piece of cinema that muses thoughtful on the big issues; a party scene with Will Oldham aka Bonnie Prince Billy talking about the universe is the closest we get to any kind of expository explanation. Scary, but in a philosophical way, A Ghost Story is an offbeat film to be savoured for its unique charm, and taking a fresh approach to cinematic storytelling. It’s not a lot of laughs, but it stay’s with you…


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  1. Loved this when it came out, though it did get me thinking that maybe an eternal afterlife isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    Affleck’s performance is entirely through his subtle, pronounced reactions, though I do have to wonder how much of this performance is a result of strong direction and framing … it is just a guy under a sheet for most of the film after all.

    • Or how much of the performance we’re reading into it, since we can’t see him. Quite a gamble to book a known star and then stop us from seeing him, but it just about pays off…

  2. Always liked this film, all atmosphere and pace and whatnot. Cryptically quiet, while still managing that Bonnie Prince Billy rant. It was actually in my head the other day cos I saw “The Presence,” with Mira Sorvino. It’s not as deep (or trying to be deep, depending on one’s temperament) as this film, but if you vibe with one you might vibe with the other. I’d be curious to know your thoughts on it–and at least see it get a little more exposure.

    • And The Presence goes onto the to do list, thanks! I like this kind of melancholy story, so anything in that vibe is of interest, ta!

    • The trailer is a real problem here, since it reveals far too much, but also suggests a different direction to the one that we take. It’s a slight story, but the themes are strong enough…

  3. So does C end up in a ghosty relationship with the new ghost? And how do ghosts have feelings without the nervous system of a human or the chemicals in a body? I’m curious….

    • It would have been nice to see more of them before the accident. But a meditative film is no bad thing…

    • Phew, thanks! You can get pies AT the fringe, from the Piemaker shop, but you are correct, it was a typo! Alex is busy with his time travel this morning….

      A Ghost Story is viewable, for nowt, on Ye Olde ITV hub in the UK, of all places. That’s not a platform known for its experimental romance, but there you go. This film will either inspire you or you’ll switch it off after ten mins. I’m going to the former, since you made it this far….

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