SHEET JUST GOT REAL
Spooky drama A Ghost Story was the toast of Sundance: London
OF ALL THE worthy films at this year’s Sundance: London, including Kumail Nanjiani’s
The Big Sick and Trump satire Beatriz At Dinner, it was David Lowery’s A Ghost Story that hit the hardest. But how best to describe a film that may be unlike anything you’ve ever seen? The director thinks he has the answer. “We often refer to this as the Apichatpong Weerasethakul remake of Beetlejuice,” he laughs. If there’s a sentence guaranteed to have them queuing round the block, it’s that one.
But he’s on the money. A Ghost Story is, like a Weerasethakul movie such as Uncle Boonmee
Who Can Recall His Past Lives, delicately composed and painstakingly paced. And, like
Beetlejuice, it’s about a dead man who haunts the place where he used to live. That man, nameless but given the name ‘C’ in the credits, is played by newly minted Oscar-winner Casey Affleck. But there’s a twist — as a ghost he’s no evil apparition, but a bloke under a sheet. Yes, like you used to see in cartoons as a kid. “I had this idea that we could make a straight-up horror like The
Conjuring, but have the ghost be a guy in a sheet the entire time,” says Lowery. “The concept predates the specific movie. I always knew I would make a film about a guy in a sheet. It just turned out to be this one.”
Despite the title, A Ghost Story is not a horror. It’s a meditative, sometimes desperately sad, take on grief and loss and longing as the ghost first watches his wife (Rooney Mara, making this an
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints reunion) slowly move on with her life, and then a procession of new residents as time begins to lose all meaning. And all the while, bar one or two shots, that really is Affleck under a sheet. Never speaking, barely moving. “He didn’t take much convincing,” smiles Lowery. “He was very comfortable in that costume, able to do what he loves in complete anonymity.” The result is a movie that could be Lowery’s most personal and most complete. Hence the rapturous response to the final film of Sundance, as the festival ended on a high.
A GHOST STORY IS IN CINEMAS FROM 11 AUGUST
Above: Casey Affleck accidentally arrives in the phantom zone.
Here: Spouse Rooney Mara puts on a yard sale.