“Lovely, mysterious and cosmic.”
Such are the words that Time Out New York’s Joshua Rothkopf used to describe David Lowery’s Sundance sensation A Ghost Story, and from the looks of the haunting new trailer released today, the film will be exactly as he advertised.
The preview catches the eye from the get-go by eschewing the widescreen format of typical trailers in favor of a square-ish frame with rounded edges, an aspect ratio that gives the impression of viewing the featured footage home-video-style on a television screen. The trailer stays tight-lipped about why the excerpts from the film are presented in this way, though the film’s synopsis—which tells of a spectral being, unmoored from time, who is forced to watch the life he left and the woman he loves pass him by—encourages certain interpretations to be made related to ideas of helpless spectatorship and cinema as time travel.
The rest of the teaser contains a fragmentary quality that brings to mind the films of Terrence Malick and Shane Carruth, both of whom feel like especially apt forebears to evoke, given those filmmakers’ interests in cosmic temporality and the human stories it enfolds. But the trailer also suggests that A Ghost Story will be its own, unique entity, an idiosyncrasy most prominently signaled by the figure of the ghost itself. Costumed in nothing but a sheet with cut-out eyeholes, ghost-Casey Affleck is the kind of character that, on paper, sounds goofily out of place in a serious film about grief, except there is something deeply melancholic about seeing a cartoonish character design that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in Scooby Doo get demystified and made mundane through placement within a subdued, live-action environment.
As the otherworldly drifter passes through a variety of locations (and times) ranging from a vast meadow to a crumbling house to the edge of a skyscraper, the trailer’s ethereal soundtrack drives us further into wonder and we know that, as persistently as the ghost haunts his old home, so this trailer—and, according to early reports, the film it precedes—will haunt us.
Check out the full trailer above, find the film’s striking poster here and catch A Ghost Story in theaters when it debuts on July 7.