Accentuate the negative.
Charles C. Stevenson Jr.
Running Time: 111 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: Germany, United Kingdom, United States
Remember how there was always that small group of kids at school who would turn their noses up at anyone who wanted to actually DO anything? Well Ghost World is about two of them Enid and Rebecca (Thora Birch and a verge-of-world-domination Scarlett Johansson) and what happens when graduations over and its time to face everyday society.
For Rebecca, it looks like those carefree days of sitting around the local coffee shop scowling at enthusiastic types are swiftly coming to an end. Shes got herself a job, is looking for a place to live, and has even managed to find some new friends. All of which means its loose end time for Enid, whos Hell-bent on clinging desperately to her life of self-imposed emptyness.
Swiftly, Enid with her ironic punk fashion sense, love of ridiculously-obscure Indian music, and brief fascination with gimp masks – becomes the main focus of the story. In a turn of events involving a personal ad and one of the crueller pranks youll see, she teams up with leather-skinned record geek Seymour (Steve Buscemi). At first, hes a figure of fun, then a figure of sympathy, but its not long before all of that subsides to make way for friendship and perhaps even the early stages of an unlikely romance.
Based on a little-known series of comic books by Daniel Clowes (note his name is an anagram of the main characters Enid Coleslaw), this is a strangely-likable film, devoid of any real occurrences, but thoughtful, original and witty in its execution. Enids deep discomfort with joining regimented society and all that that entails will strike a chord with many a school-leaver, and its hard to imagine anyone capturing that better than Birch. Her performance is memorable and hits the nail right on the head, whilst the casting of Buscemi is a similar masterstroke. His character doesnt have the chiselled looks or biting wit weve come to associate with the archetypal Hollywood love interest: on the contrary, he finds the general public impossible to relate to, and looks like a lizard. Is there an actor alive more suited to that role than Buscemi? If so, Ive yet to come across him.
It's Got: A prime example of how NOT to keep your job at the local cinemas hot dog kiosk.
It Needs: To be seen by all familiar with the pangs of teen disaffection.
DVD Extras Three featurettes (looking behind the scenes of both the film and the original comic strip), TV & radio spots, some stills and a trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10
Alternatives:American Beauty, Trees Lounge
Funny and intelligent in equal measure, this was one of the best, most under-stated movies of the year 2001.