Drama (US); 2001;
Rated R; 111 Minutes
Produced by Pippa Cross, Janette Day, Lianne Halfon,
Barbara A. Hall, John Malkovich and Russell Smith; Directed
by Terry Zwigoff; Screenwritten by Daniel Clowes
and Terry Zwigoff; based on the comic book by Daniel
by DAVID KEYES
months preceding and following a high school graduation
are the most crucial for teenagers because they are when
all the important decisions regarding the future have to
be made. A huge weight feels like it has been lifted once
the diplomas are in their hands, but the pressures of real
life persist, and only when these young adults have set
clear goals for themselves and their futures does the outlook
appear to be less treacherous to navigate. Those who put
off such imperative decisions only make the road ahead steeper
Zwigoff's "Ghost World" studies this idea in a
way that could easily suffice as a noted influence to those
who have not yet arrived at their necessary determinations.
Enid (Thora Birch) is a recent high school graduate who
has no plans for herself beyond the current week, other
than to secure her status as a rebellious and unconventional
entity amongst a society of people she cannot stand. Taking
company with her childhood friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson),
the two girls wander aimlessly and ceaselessly through the
streets of their Los Angeles neighborhood, editorializing
on every aspect of every person or thing that catches their
eyes, seeking to brew up as much trouble as they can on
anyone they feel deserves it. One of their common habits,
in fact, involves them stopping by the local market almost
daily to harass their working friend Josh (Brad Renfro)
by making him list off all the place's ice cream flavors,
even though they already know what's available.
starts out as seemingly innocent fun, however, quickly becomes
life-altering when Enid discovers an ad in the local newspaper
placed by a man in search of a woman he once met. In attempt
to have some fun at the guy's expense, she answers the ad,
pretends to be the woman, sets up meeting instructions at
a restaurant and then goes there, staying hidden so that
she can watch his embarrassment as no one shows up. But
she is quickly taken by surprise by this man, Seymour (Steve
Buscemi), as he is reserved and shy, has no real friends
or relationships, and doesn't seem to conform to any typical
societal standard. Enid is utterly infatuated by him and
his lifestyle, and soon she is able to make her way into
his life and form a friendship with him.
a director, Zwigoff is practically a newcomer to the big
screen; a search over at the Internet Movie Database, in
fact, brings up only two previous directorial credits, a
documentary called "Crumb" and another titled
"Louie Bluie," both relatively unknown. But if
"Ghost World" is anything to go by, audiences
with undoubtedly be seeing more of him in the not-too-distant
future. The movie is a very distinctive, offbeat and poignant
endeavor, steeped in rich performances and characterizations
and bursting with inevitable wisdom. Almost everyone who
sees it could learn something about themselves, about others,
and about life in general if they look closely enough. But
alas the screenplay itself, while certainly filled with
relevant human intricacies, lacks the thorough emotional
depth and tyranny we feel is crucial to Enid's development
as a character. At one point of the movie, Rebecca breaks
off the friendship, disappointed by her friend's nihilistic
attitude and inability to take charge of her life. Later
we see the two reconcile, but it happens so subtly and swiftly
that we are left with a sense of disappointment and confusion.
Apologies are exchanged, suggestions are made, and then...
"Ghost World" is quite unlike what moviegoers
have seen throughout the past year, and though the movie
isn't as remarkable or groundbreaking as so many have claimed,
it does have a definite lasting impact on the audience.
There is a moment when Enid, loaded up on liquor, announces
to Seymour that she hates everybody in her life because
they always try to hold her back. "Why can't I do what
I want to do?", she asks. But what is it she wants
to accomplish that people are preventing her from doing?
She doesn't know the answer. She never does. Hopefully,
that isn't the situation you're stuck in yourself.
2001, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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