Ghost World

Review Date:
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Writer: Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes
Producers: John Malkovich, Lianne Halfon, Russell Smith
Thora Birch as Enid, Steve Buscemi as Seymour, Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca
After graduating from high school, two girl best friends try to figure out what they want to do with their lives. In the meantime, they make fun of people around them, attempt to get real jobs and play a dirty trick on an older, lonely guy. That being done, one of the girls gets a job, hoping to move on with her life, while the other, falls for the older, lonely guy, and starts hanging out with him more. Okay, so it doesn’t sound all that exciting, but trust me…it’s got some cool insight, great characters and a wonderful ambiance all around. See below…
There are great movies and then there are movies that hit you on a personal level and elevate it to an even greater level. Does that make any sense? Well, either way, I really loved this flick. It’s not a “big movie” by any stretch of the imagination, but its characters, its environment, its authenticity and its capacity to capture the feeling of an outsider living in society today, well, really drew me into its story. A story which incidentally, doesn’t have a typical structure. It’s basically about these two high school girls who are trying to figure out what the next step in their lives will be. This leads to self-discovery, some introspection and an insightful look at the way people use facades in order to get by in life. Of course, you don’t have to be a teenage girl to be able to relate to any of their feelings of alienation, concern for their futures, non-conformity and the general notion of not being able to “fit into” society (do you ever just feel trapped?). For many, there is a fine line between “putting food on the table” and “selling out”.

I’ve personally always had a fascination with the so-called “weirdos” from high school (especially the goth chicks and girls with Doc Martens…yeah, baby!) Maybe because I was kinda weird myself (or maybe I still am…not sure). But the bottom line with most of these folks, as with the two girls in this film, is that they’re basically just like the rest of us, but with some deeper insecurities, and a greater need to put up walls. The two ladies in this film put others down in order to feel better about their own stations in life and because they cannot seem to pursue their own goals. Of course, they don’t do any of this consciously, but just like in real life (boy, do I ever know a lot of people like this!), it happens and it’s interesting to watch them interact with the rest of the characters in this movie.

But don’t let me make this film sound too profound! It’s actually very funny, clever, extremely well-written and everyone in the cast fits their parts to a tee. Especially Buscemi and Birch, who are both perfect in their roles, and really give their respective characters the added layer of vulnerability needed to pull you in even further. I also appreciated the various plays on stereotypes in this film, but with a twist. Buscemi plays the typical “collector guy” with all of his anal habits (“I don’t want to meet someone who shares my interests. I hate my interests!”), but he’s surprisingly very conscious of himself being that person. He doesn’t pretend to be anything else. He’s honest about it and that’s what makes him that much more appealing. Birch’s friend is also very typical of your know-it-all, sarcastic chickie-dee at the beginning of the film, but as their lives move forward, she grows, adapts and accepts some of what her life is offering, as opposed to Birch’s character, who simply cannot seem to let go of her irresponsible teenage self.

Man, but there’s so much more in here as well. There’s drama, there’s a genuine sense of empathy for the characters, there’s an open-ended resolution that could not have been more ideal for a film as such, there are some nifty old-time tunes and there is an incredible feeling of loneliness woven deep within the film’s fabric. Mind you, if you’ve read my entire review up to this point, you should also note that this is not your typical movie for your everyday moviegoer. Let’s face it…it’s a bit of an “art-house” movie, but a damn good one! (in the same vein of a, let’s say…RUSHMORE) Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention the entire sub-plot with Illeanna Douglas playing the over-the-top “performance artist” teacher, who skewers all of those pretentious bastards and the whole lesbian undertone running throughout the entire picture, between Birch and her “best friend” (or was that just me?). Anyway, as you can see, I really, really loved this movie, even more so because I’m quite confused about my own dinky future at this point in my life as well, so it likely struck a chord, or actually…several chords! Either way, check it out if you’re looking for a sardonic flick with a unique point of view, some great performances, fun dialogue, a catchy soundtrack, many clever bits and a resounding, heart-felt message.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Ghost World



Viewer Ratings (0 reviews)

Add your rating