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A Ghost Story

It’s all about time.

Rooney as: M
Genre(s): Drama
Written by: David Lowery
Directed by: David Lowery
Other Cast: Casey Affleck
Release Date: July 7, 2017 (Limited)
Production Budget: $100k
Total Worldwide Gross: $1.95m
Filming Locations: Irving, Texas

  • With A Ghost Story, acclaimed director David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon) returns with a singular exploration of legacy, loss, and the essential human longing for meaning and connection.

    Recently deceased, a white-sheeted ghost (Academy Award-winner Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to console his bereft wife (Academy Award-nominee Rooney Mara), only to find that in his spectral state he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as the life he knew and the woman he loves slowly slip away. Increasingly unmoored, the ghost embarks on a cosmic journey through memory and history, confronting life’s ineffable questions and the
    enormity of existence.

    An unforgettable meditation on love and grief, A Ghost Story emerges ecstatic and surreal — a wholly unique experience that lingers long after the credits roll.

    Production Info

  • Rooney Mara’s pie eating scene was filmed entirely in one take. Producer James M. Johnston, who owns two vegan restaurants in Dallas-Fort Worth made Mara a gluten-free apple pie, pumpkin pie and chocolate pie. She chose the chocolate one, and later claimed she would never eat pie again.
  • Was shot in Irving, Texas using the funds made from David Lowery’s previous film, Pete’s Dragon.
  • Filming was hidden to public. The project wasn’t announced until months after filming had wrapped.
  • A24 acquired the film before it even premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
  • David Lowery, who both wrote and directed the film, characterized his idea to create a movie about a ghost as a primordial miasm in his brain, as he visioned a ghost exactly like the one that is presented in the movie. He believes that it is a very goofy image that is breaking from the norm in terms of how a story is told and the tools that are used for it.
  • In order to achieve the shape for the ghost Casey Affleck had to wear several petticoats and a hoop under the sheet.
  • Director David Lowery intended to use music from singer-songwriter Kesha in the background of the squatters party scene. When producers reached out to Sebert, she not only allowed them to use her songs, but also arrived on set and served as an extra in the aforementioned scene.
  • David Lowery wrote the film as a reaction to the 2015 New Yorker article The Really Big One by Kathryn Schulz. The article discusses potential natural disasters that could destroy humanity much in the same vein as the monologue given by the Prognosticator in the middle of the dance party who predicts that humanity as a whole is doomed.
  • As Rooney Mara’s character writes the note to place inside the wall, she was instructed to write something of deep personal meaning to her, and not to share it with anyone. That note remained in the wall when the house was demolished. Since then, Mara claims to have forgotten what she wrote.
  • Quoting: Cast and Crew

    Director David Lowery: She has one of those transcendent faces that changes when you put a lens in front of it. It’s the reason why close-ups are such a powerful tool in movies, and it’s what defines our greatest stars. When you find the right face, you want to make sure you’re using it right. It can convey all of the emotion you thought you’d need dialogue for.

    Co-star Casey Affleck: She can show a huge range of emotions with her face in moments where she’s just alone. She doesn’t need a whole ton of dialogue to communicate a lot of things.

    Critical Response

    Alissa Wilkinson, Vox: A wrenching series of scenes follow, depicting the full range of grief that M experiences, with Mara’s big eyes and placid exterior cracking in ways that feel so real they’re almost unbearable. At one point she pulls the bedsheets off the bed she used to share with C to wash them, then stops, sits on the foot of the bed, and just holds the sheets; it’s the first time she’s washed them since he died. And in the five-minute scene that’s sure to be the movie’s most cited sequence, she slumps onto the kitchen floor and eats a whole pie with increasing urgency. We just watch.

    Jordan Raup, The Film Stage: If Lowery’s last Mara and Affleck collaboration was a poetic ode to eternal romance, their latest lies more in the stillness of grief. The initial inherent goofiness of the image of a caped Affleck with eye holes cut out as he stands around corners of their house quickly washes away when Lowery centers the focus on M’s devastation, rendered by Rooney Mara in one of her most affecting performances.

    Tim Grierson, Screen International: If Affleck gives a mostly silent performance after his character’s death — we don’t see his face for much of A Ghost Story — so too does Mara. Yet the actress is exceptional in several silent sequences in which humdrum activities, like eating a pie, suggest the powerful emotional undercurrents threatening to consume her.

    David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: While Affleck and Mara both are onscreen (at least visibly, in Affleck’s case) for limited stretches, their performances resonate.

    Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Mara has always been expert at expressing emotions without dialogue, and Affleck is a master at it – Manchester By the Sea proved that indelibly. Having worked with Lowery on Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, both actors are simpatico with the lyrical cadences of his technique; their minimalist performances are, in a word, mesmerizing.