Sunday, February 16, 2020

Ghost World

Movie Name: Ghost World
Year of Release: 2001
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Starring: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas, Bob Balaban, Teri Garr, Stacey Travis, Brian George, Pat Healy, David Cross, Tom McGowan, Diane Salinger
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Director Terry Zwigoff made a name for himself in the 90s with the documentary, "Crumb", which found itself in the list of the best films of the year and ended up winning innumerable awards for best documentary of the year (the documentary was of course, focused on artist Robert Crumb). "Ghost World" is the first feature film for Terry Zwigoff and is an adaptation of the comic book by Daniel Clowes, who co-authors the screenplay with the director. The film follows the story of two best friends, Enid and Rebecca, who are about to graduate high school. Both of them have distinct tastes, don't really mix with most of the high school crowd, and tend to seek out uncomfortable social situations or at least some general awkwardness around it. They also have less than a forgiving eye for all the social niceties and all the pressure that young people place upon themselves, to feel hip, cool or belong. While Rebecca is figuring out how to find a job, so they can find their own place to live, Enid is blithely living with her father, while also developing a crush/fixation on an older man, Seymour. Enid who draws and scribbles incessantly, is forced to take a Summer art class, in order to finish her high school, and while initially repulsed by what the teacher considers sublime, she eventually decides to play the game, all the while trying to understand what she needs to do next with her life.
"Ghost World" is a finely observed film focused on young people who don't really fit in, and don't necessarily want to fit in. It's a film that details the lives of high schoolers, that are quite unlike most typical observational comedies focused on this demographic. These young women in particular, have tastes in terms of art, memorabilia, music, that veer off the most typical path. Enid in particular, who ends up being the center of the story, is trying to understand who she is, what she wants to do, and does so by forcing situations that don't necessarily have the outcome she expects. In looking for answers, she goes through paths that are not necessarily the most linear ones, at times alienating her only friends and loved ones. It's a film that much like "Crumb", doesn't make the characters likable or relatable. It's observational, candid, reveling in some of the awkwardness Enid has and creates for herself. The performances are uniformly solid, with Steve Buscemi in particular, creating a man who is gentle, but disillusioned with relationships, and in particular, his ability to find a fulfilling one. If anything, the film could have benefited from providing more dimension to the supporting characters, but it's still an insightful view at someone trying to find her path and place in the world. Worth watching.