Just a few days after director David Lowery finished shooting Disney's live-action Pete's Dragon, he started a project that could hardly have been more different -- the micro-budget, quietly revelatory, poetic, meditative, and aptly titled A Ghost Story.
Lowery shot in secret and very quickly. His setting, an entirely unremarkable suburban rambler that was slated for demolition, which allowed him to destroy it when necessary, and his chief storytelling device a childlike representation of a ghost — a figure draped in a white bedsheet.
His two leads -- a married couple, known only as "C" and "M" -- are played by Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara, who'd starred in his Ain't Them Bodies Saints a few years back, and who have an easy rapport that was probably essential to filming on a short shoot.
Affleck's C is quiet, a composer who's better at expressing himself in music than in words. Mara's M seems more comfortable saying what she's feeling, but she gets very little bounce from her spouse. She wants to move, he's attached for some unfathomable reason to the house. She loves him, and he, her, but their relationship is difficult. And then, abruptly, he dies in an auto accident just yards from the house. At the hospital morgue, M says her goodbyes, and leaves the body on its slab, in stillness.
When no one's around, C leaves too. He sits up on the slab, still covered by a sheet, looking for all the world like a Halloween costume with black holes for eyes. A ghost-in-ghost's-clothing, he begins to wander the crowded halls of the hospital unnoticed. A portal opens -- a chance to move toward the light -- but instead, C returns to the house he didn't want to leave, to be with his grieving wife.