Where does a girl who hates everyone except her best friend go to
find acceptance and affection? Why, a much older, record collecting
loner (read: loser) of course!
Admittedly low key and not for all tastes, Ghost World has its charm.
Anyone who has ever felt themselves intellectually superior will find
something appealing in Enid, thoughtfully portrayed by a shuffling
Thora Birch. Enid is the eternal "pretty girl's best friend" to Scarlett
Johannson's Becky, a bored but pretty blond who is devoted and committed
to sharing a post high school bachelorette pad with her oldest and
dearest friend. The girls are two sides of the same weird coin which
begins to split when Enid stalks and befriends Seymour (Steve Buscemi),
a much older and very single man. Enid takes on Seymour's datelessness
as a challenge and vows to find him a woman. There is palpable sexual
tension between the two and - experience tells us- this can't be
good. Even so, the film is off beat enough to make you hope against
hope that they will find happiness with each other. I won't spoil it for you.
Buscemi is at his brown polyester best as the music junky, Seymour,
but it is Birch's understanding portrayal of a smug eighteen year
old with intimacy issues that makes Ghost World work. Of course, a
well written script and amazing supporting cast including Bob Balaban
and Ileanna Douglass certainly helps. The dialogue of teenage girls
has a very specific sound and Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff's script
captures every nuance. There is no guess work about the characters'
desires but there is enough respect for the audience not to spell
it out or beat you over the head with it- something rare in this day and age.
The humor peppered throughout the film is smart and very dry, mirroring
the attitude of its main character. Of particular comic note is Douglass's
performance as the summer school art teacher who subjects her students
(including Enid) to a video entitled "Mirror, Father, Mirror" and
appreciates the social significance of an art piece consisting of a tampon in a tea cup.
There is so much to appreciate about Ghost World in an era too jam
packed with short attention span editing, hand held cameras, and "funny"
violence. Ghost World has none of that, but has fine performances,
an intriguing script with real flesh and blood people in it, and wit.