Ghost World


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Ghost World
"Buscemi gives one of his finest performances."

Dropout teenage high school retards have been done to death in movies. Usually, this verbal vermin comes courtesy of Kevin Smith and the Mallrats school of comedy, hanging out in diners, or video stores, waiting to scrounge a freebie.

Not any more. Ghost World is Enid's story. She has the attitude ("I think only stupid people have good relationships") and she has the lip ("He's such a clueless dork, he's almost cool"). She hates her life and this world of useless failure, surrounded by the mediocrity of American urban decay.

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Her attitude is her style. She and her friend, Rebecca (Scarlett Johanssen), mock the futility of ambition. She's against everything, which gives her an edge: "Creeps and losers and weirdos, these are our people."

Rebecca is different. She finds a job in a coffee shop and sticks with it. She talks of renting an apartment and stops wearing f*** you fashion to tease perverts.

Enid stays defiant in fat-heeled boots, tight minis, a raptor tee shirt and purple lipstick. She makes friends with Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a collector of vintage jazz records, because he "can't relate to 99 per cent of humanity."

What begins as confrontation against a world that has no place for an anarchic spirit ("I want to meet someone who isn't a complete idiot"), ends on a street bench, waiting for a bus. Along the way, illusions have been stripped and the true nature of loneliness laid bare. Hope, it seems, is a belief in ghosts.

Director Terry Zwigoff's last outing was the documentary, Crumb, about the iconic Sixties cartoonist, Robert Crumb. This debut feature is based on a Dan Clowes comic book and yet displays none of the extended exaggeration, typical of that genre.

Buscemi gives one of his finest performances and Thora Birch, as Enid, reinforces the promise she showed in American Beauty. This is acting that changes the meaning of friendship.

"I know I'm a total disappointment to everyone," Enid says.

It's not true.

Reviewed on: 10 Aug 2001
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Ghost World packshot
Teenage rebel makes friends with middle-aged jazz collector and discovers alienation.
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Read more Ghost World reviews:

Keith Hennessey Brown ****

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Writer: Dan Clowes, Terry Zwigoff

Starring: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johanssen, Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro, Stacey Travis, Illeana Douglas, Bob Balaban, Teri Garr

Year: 2001

Runtime: 112 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2001

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