A Ghost Story


A Ghost Story [2017] – David Lowery is a patient film-lover’s absurd and hopeful tragedy just shown at the Fantasia International Film Festival.  Rooney Mara plays Casey Affleck‘s widow, sitting on the kitchen floor mournfully eating a pie as his specter watches on. She eats the pie over five long minutes in a single static shot, and he motionlessly observes from under a Casper the Ghost-style sheet with eye holes cut out.  This is like an entry bar at a reverse roller coaster: you must be this patient to watch.  Do!

The excruciating pace of the opening sequences (pie eating being just one) grants the viewer the freedom to cycle through emotions. First you laugh because the Casper sheet is ridiculous.  And then you feel her pain. And then, despite the faceless, featureless sheet and his robotic, motionless presence you somehow feel his.  It must be projection, but somehow (as I heard during the Q&A afterwards) most of the audience projected the same thing.  This is a kind of genius.

A Ghost Story - apart


After almost a third of the film she moves out, taking her healing process with her, and he is left behind.  We are rewarded then for our patience with a lasting connection which will carry us through the rest of the film.  As other people come to inhabit the home in which his ghost is now trapped, his identity seems to unhook from time.  The cycles which we felt in the drawn out opening scenes are revealed to be a sort of foreshadowing: his path through the film is to cycle through the stages of grief as a lost and trapped observer.  The climax is all of heartwarming, haunting and just a touch of friendly cliche.

This isn’t a scary ghost story.  It’s a meditation on the prison of grief.  It’s daring in a thoughtful and unexpected way, and I want to show it to the people I care about because sitting here two hours after it ended I just want them to experience the catharsis.


I couldn’t find any release date information aside from some showings in Europe, but keep an eye open for news on this one.  It’d be a desperate shame if it didn’t get some wider release than the festival circuit.