A simple story told with the simplest means, A Ghost Story tracks the progress of a ghost who can’t let go of the woman he loved and the house they shared, evoking a profoundly moving sense of existential disquiet.
One of the wonders of this or any year, David Lowery’s film takes the homeliest of images for the supernatural – a sheet with two forlorn eyeholes – and places it at the centre of a layered and piercing contemplation of existential mystery. Working in secret and on a micro-budget, the director of Pete’s Dragon and Ain't Them Bodies Saints has evoked a profound eeriness from the most minimal and intimate of means.
As the ghost of a young husband (Casey Affleck) observes the grief of his partner (Rooney Mara) and then lingers through subsequent tenancies of the house they shared, the helpless ghost’s attachment to the place he loved becomes increasingly impersonal and unsettled. Lowery’s theme is realised in delicate, folkloric images of a distinctly American paradise lost, its hushed mood disrupted by abrupt bursts of activity – Will Oldham on a brilliant jag as a drunken doom theorist – and radical bends in time.
“A Ghost Story has the structure and rhythm of a musical suite, with Lowery working variations on the same themes, the same characters, and the same location. The result can be lyrical and poetic, or more naturalistic and minimalist. In both cases, A Ghost Story is absolutely mesmerizing, with an anything-goes quality that’s endlessly fascinating. Any movie that can turn a walking joke like The Ghost into a figure of genuine pathos is a movie that earns every long pause, and every sudden leap.” — Noel Murray, The Playlist
“A Ghost Story is filmmaking that challenges and exhilarates, a potent reminder of how many new places film can still be taken even after a century of people working in the medium.” — Dominik Suzanne-Mayer, Consequence of Sound