Ghost World (2001)

Rating: ****
Review Date: 8/9/12
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Writer: Daniel Clowes
Cast: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi

A sad tale of love, loss, and self destruction. Best friends Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) have just graduated from high school and are trying to figure out what to do with their boring lives. Rebecca is ready to find a job and move into her own apartment, while Enid is stuck having to take a remedial art class in summer school. A cruel prank played on a misfit loner named Seymour (Steve Buscemi) puts events into motion that will destroy Enid and everyone around her.

Ah yes, who hasn't felt the bitter sting of betrayal at the hands of a teenage girl? While Daniel Clowes' screenplay deviates considerably from his original source material, the spirit and overall tone remain true. In fact, the film may even surpass the comic book in that it's a cohesive whole rather than a collection of short stories strung together. Thora Birch is FABULOUS as Enid and perfectly embodies the quirks and frailties of her character. Under her tough, sarcastic, and rebellious exterior is a frightened and emotionally wounded child who is scared to grow up and wants to hide from the monsters of society. Rebecca isn't nearly as complicated, but Scarlett Johansson does a great job at being a disdainful and disenchanted teenager, struggling to get by in a grown-up world. She also has the sexiest eyebrows I've ever seen. One little twitch and I completely lose control. Steve Buscemi is wonderfully cast as Seymour and his performance is one of his finest moments. Seymour's uneasy relationship with Enid is awkward and uncomfortable, but tender and heart warming at the same time.

The film looks great, the dialog is wonderful, and the performances are outstanding. A fantastic production all around. While there's music in the film and it plays a very important role, there's no musical score and the film tends to be pretty sparse in the audio department. This leads to lots of long, silent pauses where the audience can reflect upon what's happening in the characters' heads. If there's anything I would criticize about the film, it's that the two leads are so incredibly sexy and beautiful that they actually detract from the story. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it's certainly something that I noticed and had a hard time reconciling. The downbeat ending is a bummer and director Terry Zwigoff twists the knife just a little TOO much, but Enid's final scene is wonderful. Similar to the book, it's beautifully vague and definitely symbolic of SOMETHING, making it a worthy topic for analysis and discussion. If you're a fan of slice-of-life fiction and 90's pop culture, "Ghost World" is sure to please.