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.


Above: Casey Af­fleck ac­ci­den­tally ar­rives in the phan­tom zone.

Here: Spouse Rooney Mara puts on a yard sale.

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