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 it's
definitely worth seeing. It's intense, sometimes maddeningly slow, but
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 taste in
fashion. She always looks cute with her Doc Marten's boots, her kitschy
thrift store clothes, her Buddy-Holly-once-geeky-but-now-cool black
framed eyeglasses, and her black turned green and back to black again
hair. I adore this character because she looks and acts like I tried to
back in the day.

Enid and her best friend Rebecca have just graduated from high school
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 together
and settle into the horror that is mundane life in a suburb full of
strip malls, fast-food chains, and contrived 50's themed diners (with
rap music on the jukebox no less). Sounds just like where I grew up and
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, is
stalling for time, not quite sure she has the stomach for it, but too
young to have experienced anything else to know what she wants. She
knows there must be something else out there, but she doesn't know what
it is. This causes a painful rift in their tight friendship, triggering
some minor tragic events. Everyone's feelings get hurt, including Enid's
new friend Seymour (the wonderful Steve Buscemi).

At first Enid and Rebecca set up the sad, geeky, older Seymour to
humilate him. They answer a pathetic personal ad of his and watch him
get humiliated. It's cringingly cruel, but the sweet friendship that
later blossoms between Seymour and Enid makes up for it. Seymour turns
out to be pretty cool in Enid's eyes. He collects vintage 78 records and
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 women,
which starts out awful but eventually works out, causing a painful
strain on THEIR friendship as well.

It all seems too much to bear, but there's more. Enid is forced to
endure a summer art class that she must pass to really get her diploma
and move on. Her summer art teacher is played by Illeanna Douglas, who
comes across as a post-hippie idiot who looks down on any kind of
artistic expression that she doesn't personally identify with.
Hmmm....sounds like my whole experience as an art major at university.

Also, Enid's confused but very sweet dad has just taken up with his evil
ex-girlfriend again, making Enid's home no longer a safe refuge from all
the pain of life.

I found the film at times to be beautiful, painful, slow, ironic and
hilarious. Gee, just like life. Don't miss the soundtrack, it contains
some of the best music used in a film since "O Brother, Where Art


The above material is considered the property of Anastasia.
If you wish to use this article, in part or whole, please contact her at