Movie Review – Ghost World (2001)

Director: Terry Zwigoff

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

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Ghost World is set in the summer after graduation. Enid (Birch) is struggling with change, while her best friend Becky (Johansson) is looking forward to moving forward with life and getting an apartment together. After they jokingly reply to a personal ad and witness Seymour (Buscemi) suffering heartache, they stalk him and after trying to help him find a date, Enid falls for him.

I haven’t read the graphic novel but I’ve heard good things, and I really enjoyed the movie. The original synopsis is a little misleading as I was expecting the story to be more balanced between the two lead characters, but the focus is very much on Enid, and by the end of it Johansson gets relegated to a supporting role. But Birch is watchable and personifies the frustrated indifference of the teenager. The film is largely about the daunting world after high school and the lashing out against change. Whenever anything ‘big’ happens to Enid she sabotages herself in order to live in her bubble. It’s something I identify with as I’ve struggled with those issues as well, and I found her sympathetic, although frustrating in the way she treats others as well, like Seymour, who basically upends his life for her.

The film is darkly comedic with a few laugh-out-loud moments, but also some quiet moments to ponder the nature of life. It would have been nice to have a balanced story between the two girls, but it’s an entertaining film and one I would recommend.

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