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A Ghost Story

A young couple. The Man, C., dies suddenly in a car crash. The woman, M., survives and is shaken. C. returns as a ghost with no one noticing and observes how the world keeps moving. A gentle, sad, and philosophical ghost film.


This review contains minor spoilers that does not detract from the viewing of the film.

David Lowery‘s A GHOST STORY is an incredibly beautiful, moving, funny, and sad film; one of the smartest that have come out this year. A GHOST STORY isn‘t a horror movie, even though it depicts deep philosophical terror and a immense grief.

Youngish hipster couple C. (Casey Affleck) and M. (Rooney Mara) live in a suburban house and are fighting about their upcoming move. Strange lights appear on the wall, like reflections of a surface that can‘t be seen. A strange piano chord can be heard at night, but no one seems to be at home. C. dies in a car accident shortly thereafter. He returns as a ghost, dressed in a white sheet with black eye holes, like a children‘s drawing of a ghost, simultaneously material and disembodied in a strange way. The white sheet gets dirty at the bottom, but the ghost can only make minimal contact with the world of the living.

He mostly has to look and listen. He sees M. grieve and eat an entire cake on the floor. She doesn‘t feel his presence. He sees her getting back on her feet and moving on and new residents moving in, people he seems connected to. There‘s little dialogue, with one exception: Will Oldham aka Bonnie “Prince“ Billy appears as a nihilist party pooper and crazy philosopher and has a big speech on meaninglessness, transience, and entropy. Things escalate after; time and perhaps space disintegrate.

A GHOST STORY is beautifully shot, with gentle Nouevelle Vague light on faces and the baroque drapery of the ghost sheet, as if it came through the window in a Vermeer. Every shot is exquisitely composed. Lowery depicts a presence that is always historic and also has a gaze that goes beyond history. The profound loss of C.‘s ghost becomes a metaphor for complete alienation. The film is also about the hauntings of history in our soul, about being able to let go, and perhaps about the freedom that a connection can bring. British author Roger Clarke, who is actually a film critic, writes in his book “A Natural History of Ghosts“ that the Anglo-American belief in ghosts is a result of repressed Catholicism in British society after the reformation. The reformation abolished the idea of a cleansing purgatory, the space where ghosts and demons reside. The belief in the afterworld and intermediate world became popular again. David Lowery depicts purgatory itself here: it‘s our world and our daily life from a slightly shifted perspective, the gaze of someone lost.

Tom Dorow


USA 2017, 87 min
Genre: , Fantasy, Drama
Director: David Lowery
Author: David Lowery
DOP: Andrew Droz Palermo
Montage: David Lowery
Music: Daniel Hart
Distributor: Universal Pictures International Germany
Cast: Casey Affleck, Will Oldham, Rooney Mara, Brea Grant, Augustine Frizzell
FSK: 12
Release: 07.12.2017




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles
English/with English subtitles
All languages

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