111 minutes, Rated: R
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Starring Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Illeana
Douglas, Brad Renfro, Bob Balaban, Teri Garr, Stacey Travis
Opened: Friday, August 3, 2001
The new indie film "Ghost World" is based on a comic
book, or "graphic
novel" for you who are sensitive. I've never read comic
books but I went
to see this film because the coming attraction was hysterical.
Well, the actual film is not a knee-slapping laugh riot, but
definitely worth seeing. It's intense, sometimes maddeningly
ultimately by the end I was glad I saw it.
Thora Birch, from "American Beauty", plays the
marvelous Enid. She's a
groovy, eye-rollingly smart, post-punk rock girl with AWESOME
fashion. She always looks cute with her Doc Marten's boots, her
thrift store clothes, her Buddy-Holly-once-geeky-but-now-cool
framed eyeglasses, and her black turned green and back to black
hair. I adore this character because she looks and acts like I
back in the day.
Enid and her best friend Rebecca have just graduated from high
and now it's time to focus on the "real" world. No
plans for university
for these two, more school would be far too boring; their goal
is to get
jobs in the local coffee shop, get a real grown-up apartment
and settle into the horror that is mundane life in a suburb full
strip malls, fast-food chains, and contrived 50's themed diners
rap music on the jukebox no less). Sounds just like where I grew
from where I ran screaming as soon as I was allowed.
Rebecca, who is by Hollywood standards, prettier and more
"acceptable-looking" than Enid, is more than willing
to trade her little
high school life for the sad world of mediocrity. Enid, however,
stalling for time, not quite sure she has the stomach for it,
young to have experienced anything else to know what she wants.
knows there must be something else out there, but she doesn't
it is. This causes a painful rift in their tight friendship,
some minor tragic events. Everyone's feelings get hurt,
new friend Seymour (the wonderful Steve Buscemi).
At first Enid and Rebecca set up the sad, geeky, older Seymour
humilate him. They answer a pathetic personal ad of his and
get humiliated. It's cringingly cruel, but the sweet friendship
later blossoms between Seymour and Enid makes up for it. Seymour
out to be pretty cool in Enid's eyes. He collects vintage 78
is expert in trad jazz, ragtime and "real" blues--not
that "Delta" white
boy crap so proliferated today. She tries to help him score with
which starts out awful but eventually works out, causing a
strain on THEIR friendship as well.
It all seems too much to bear, but there's more. Enid is forced
endure a summer art class that she must pass to really get her
and move on. Her summer art teacher is played by Illeanna
comes across as a post-hippie idiot who looks down on any kind
artistic expression that she doesn't personally identify with.
Hmmm....sounds like my whole experience as an art major at
Also, Enid's confused but very sweet dad has just taken up with
ex-girlfriend again, making Enid's home no longer a safe refuge
the pain of life.
I found the film at times to be beautiful, painful, slow, ironic
hilarious. Gee, just like life. Don't miss the soundtrack, it
some of the best music used in a film since "O Brother,
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