Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi,
Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas, Bob Balaban>

Terry Zwigoff

Daniel Clowes, Terry Zwigoff

John Malkovich, Russell Smith, Lianne Halfon


Rated R for strong language and some sexual content.
Rated AA for language

Join the human race or wander the ghost world.

GHOST WORLD is based on the comic graphic novel by Daniel Clowes who also co-wrote the script with director Terry Zwigoff. The first thing to note is that this film is not a horror movie about ghosts. It is a film that will go largely unseen and un-noticed as it will be pretty well relegated to your cities art houses or speciality theatres. This of course is too bad as it would easily be appreciated by anyone who takes the time to see it. The audience that I saw the film with, laughed heartily and seemed to enjoy it immensily. It captures the confusing emotions of being an adolescent with intelligence and humour. The setting of Los Angeles shows us a a world populated by strange people all of whom seem to strive to be individuals but instead come across as being hopeless wierdos and lost souls. One girl Enid, tries to be a non conformist, that despises the phoniness and hypocrisy of those around her. The truth is that she really does not know what her life is about or what it means. She is a lost soul who just wants to be heard.

"Do you think it's healthy to collect all these things?"

"High school is like the training wheels of real life."

Thora Birch plays Enid beautifully and everything about her is convincing and real. You will probably remember Birch as the unhappy daughter of Kevin Spacey in the film AMERICAN BEAUTY. This story takes place during the summer after Enid has graduated with her friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson). The two girls at first seem to have only one goal in mind, find work and move into their own apartment but Enid can not seem to find a job. Her sarcastic and cynical nature makes it difficult for her to even hold on to a snack bar girl job in a theatre. She seems to find the worst possible things to say to people and just can not seem to be able to say anything nice.

"I liked her better when she was an alcholic crackhead."

We see, early in the film, on her graduation day, her sense of loathing for most people. A young classmate was crippled in a car acccident and all she can think to say about this girl was that she preferred her before, when she was a drunk and druggie. She finds her new morality, a sham. This loathing of people continues with Enid and Rebecca sitting in a restaurant making fun of people they see around them With nothing to do they follow them around just to poke fun at their lives.

"So, what do you do if you're a satanist?"
"Sacrifice virgins, I guess."
"Well I guess that let's us off the hook."

A bored Enid gets involved in the life of a lonely man who seems to be seething with the same type of resentment as she feels towards what she considers, stupid people. She becomes his friend and drifts away from Rebecca slowly throughout the film. While Rebecca is determined to grow into adulthood, Enid spends her time in the nostalgic world of her new found male friend, the much older Seymour played wonderfully by Steve Buscemi.

"I can't relate to 99% of humanity."

Enid spends time in record stores, a retro 1950's diner, garage sales and any place where she can find what she feels are authentic people. Seymour gives her some hope because he is a lot like her as he feels he can't relate to 99% of humanity. Seymour, like Enid has trouble cultivating relationships with living people. He spends his time in the past listening to old 78 records of jazz and dead blues artists of the '20's and 30's. Enid seems to fall into his world easily but eventually decides that Seymour deserves more and gets him to go out on a date with a woman who likes him. This leads Seymour farther away from Enid, to her disappointment.

"Some people are okay but most of the time I just want to poison everybody."

Enid comes across an old man who sits at a bus stop bench. The bus stop is decommissioned and buses never stop there but he sits there at the same time, day in and day out. He tells Enid when questioned that he is waiting for the bus and refuses to believe that buses do not not stop there anymore. Enid eventually comes to believe he is her oasis in the desert, the only one who she can count. He becomes her stable rock in a sea of of unreliabilty. This is shaken one day when for no reason he says that he is leaving and the bus does come; he boards the empty vehicle and disappears never to be seen again. Later she will make a decision of whether to wait for the bus as well.

"I can't believe it, he actually scored."

Still her life revolves closer around Seymour than she cares to acknowledge and the same goes for Seymour. Life will not go the way they think it should and that is the beauty of Ghost World.This simple film about alienation draws us easily into the lives of these two similar souls.

"I hate my interests."

A bright spot in the movie are the scenes with Illeana Douglas as a summer school art teacher, who sees something special in Enid's art abilities. Later she will have no choice but to betray Enid under pressure. This of course re-enforces societies failure in Enid's eyes. Everyone fails her but worse of all maybe she fails herself.

"I know I'm a total disappointment to everyone."

The story has lots of humour and insights that will make you both think and entertain you at the same time. Watching this film is time well spent so sit back and enjoy.

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